On Steve Jobs’s passing

I had been planning to defer commenting on the death of Steve Jobs long enough to give its impact time to cool a little, but Against Nostalgia puts the case I would have made so well and so publicly that it has changed my mind.

I met Steve Jobs once in 1999 when I was the president of the Open Source Initiative, and got caught up in one of his manipulations in a way that caused a brief controversy but (thankfully) did the organization no lasting harm. The author of this piece, Mike Daisey, does well at capturing Jobs’s ruthless brilliance. Jobs was uncannily perceptive about the interface design and marketing of technology, but he was also a control freak who posed as an iconoclast – and after about 1980 he projected his control freakery on everything he shaped. The former trait did a great deal of good; the latter did a degree of harm that, sadly, may prove greater in the end.

It’s easy to point at the good Steve Jobs did. While he didn’t invent the personal computer, he made it cool, twice. Once in 1976 when the Apple II surpassed all the earlier prototypes, and again in 1984 with the introduction of the Mac. I’ll also always be grateful for the way Jobs built Pixar into a studio that combined technical brilliance with an artistic sense and moral centeredness that has perhaps been equaled in the history of animated art, but never exceeded.

But the Mac also set a negative pattern that Jobs was to repeat with greater amplification later in his life. In two respects; first, it was a slick repackaging of design ideas from an engineering tradition that long predated Jobs (in this case, going back to the pioneering Xerox PARC WIMP interfaces of the early 1970s). Which would be fine, except that Jobs created a myth that arrogated that innovation to himself and threw the actual pioneers down the memory hole.

Second, even while Jobs was posing as a hip liberator from the empire of the beige box, he was in fact creating a hardware and software system so controlling and locked down that the case couldn’t even be opened without a special cracking tool. The myth was freedom, but the reality was Jobs’s way or the highway. Such was Jobs’s genius as a marketer that he was able to spin that contradiction as a kind of artistic integrity, and gain praise for it when he should have been slammed for hypocrisy.

Nearly a quarter-century later Jobs would repeat the same game with the iPhone. The people who did the actual innovating in smartphones – notably Danger with their pioneering Hiptop – got thrown down the memory hole by Jobs’s mythmaking (though in this case some of its principals would later achieve a kind of revenge by designing Android). And the iPhone “ecosystem” became notorious not merely for the degree of control and rent-seeking it imposed, but for the Kafkaesque vagueness and arbitrariness of Apple’s policies.

The velvet glove over Jobs’s iron fist was thinner that second time around; like most people who attract a cult following, he became increasingly convinced of his own infallibility. It was an error that eventually killed him; the kind of pancreatic cancer he had was essentially curable with early surgical intervention, but Jobs insisted on treating it with “alternative medicine” that didn’t work.

But by all accounts, when Jobs wasn’t deliberately mythologizing as a marketing gesture he was brutally honest about his own successes and failures. Mike Daisey thinks (and, on my limited exposure to the man, I agree) that Jobs would have mocked most of the hagiography now being directed at him. Daisey writes this in summary towards the end of his piece:

Mr. Jobs’s magic has its costs. We can admire the design perfection and business acumen while acknowledging the truth: with Apple’s immense resources at his command he could have revolutionized the industry to make devices more humanely and more openly, and chose not to. If we view him unsparingly, without nostalgia, we would see a great man whose genius in design, showmanship and stewardship of the tech world will not be seen again in our lifetime. We would also see a man who in the end failed to “think different,” in the deepest way, about the human needs of both his users and his workers.

I think that’s a fair assessment. For me, the emphasis would be slightly different. I’m less bothered than Daisey about the nasty conditions at Foxconn, because those workers can quit any time they choose (a lot of other manufacturing jobs in China are competing for their hours). I’m more concerned about the lock-in Jobs has inflicted on Apple users – subtler, but in its own way much more difficult to escape.

And I’m most concerned about the way that the example Jobs set affects people who aren’t Apple users at all. I don’t mind so much that Jobs made the walled-garden model of computers and smartphones immensely profitable for a while; the lure of that will pass because the economic fundamentals of software are against it, and I never had anything against the profit motive to begin with.

What’s really troubling is that Jobs made the walled garden seem cool. He created a huge following that is not merely resigned to having their choices limited, but willing to praise the prison bars because they have pretty window treatments.

I’m not in doubt that this is what exercises Richard M. Stallman, as well. RMS, who is quite like Jobs was in that he’s brutally honest when he’s not mythologizing himself for marketing reasons, has caught a lot of flak for his unsparing take on Jobs’s legacy. Certainly RMS’s remarks were rude, intemperate, and ill-timed – so much so that one of his more prominent former supporters has called for forking the FSF as a result.

But, though it’s often been my job in the past to be a peacemaker after RMS has made the open-source community look bad in public, I can’t disagree with the actual substance of what RMS wrote, and I won’t pretend to. Mike Daisey’s article, though written from a perspective well outside the open-source community’s, does a good job of explaining why I have to agree with RMS on this one.

Commerce is powerful, but culture is even more persistent. The lure of high profits from secrecy rent can slow down the long-term trend towards open source and user-controlled computing, but not really stop it. Jobs’s success at hypnotizing millions of people into a perverse love for the walled garden is more dangerous to freedom in the long term than Bill Gates’s efficient but brutal and unattractive corporatism. People feared and respected Microsoft, but they love and worship Apple – and that is precisely the problem, precisely the reason Jobs may in the end have done more harm than good.

RMS, for all his flaws, understands that the stakes in this argument go beyond narrow issues like what computer or smartphone to buy. Human cognition is messy and all sorts of ethical and aesthetic reasoning run together in peoples’ heads; we cannot expect people to love tyranny in small things like smartphones without becoming less resistant to tyranny in larger matters. That is why Appleolatry has implications for more than just what goes on in consumer-electronics stores — and little wonder that RMS lost his temper over it.

RMS is, finally, right about one last thing. Our best hope to keep the good parts of Jobs’s legacy and shed the bad is that his successors will prove far less competent. Tim Cook is not the raucous buffoon that Steve Ballmer is, but neither has he ever been accused of grand vision or the kind of dangerous charisma that Jobs wielded like a blade. Without the Jobs magic, it seems likely that the cultism around Apple will subside. Perhaps the threat to freedom will subside with it.

357 thoughts on “On Steve Jobs’s passing


  1. The people who did the actual innovating in smartphones – notably Danger with their pioneering Hiptop – got thrown down the memory hole by Jobs’s mythmaking

    What rational basis do you have for that assertion? The Danger Hiptop looks rather uninspiring from an UI point of view. The big thing about the iPhone was the UI.


  2. Human cognition is messy and all sorts of ethical and aesthetic reasoning run together in peoples’ heads;

    Which fact is the main argument used against unfettered free markets and in used in favor of managed market economies, btw.

    If human cognition is messy then the libertarian theory of “price discovery” driving markets towards a better outcome is a mere myth: price discovery and free markets depend on a rational actor.

    In that sense the App Store is a managed market – realizing (and partly offsetting) the human failings you yourself acknowledge.

  3. The Hiptop’s unique “invention” was the centralized store of services (I’d point out it was also a closed system as well). So apparently the heart of innovation in smartphones lies within proprietary, centralized commercial systems. This doesn’t bode well for Google.

  4. >If human cognition is messy then the libertarian theory of “price discovery” driving markets towards a better outcome is a mere myth: price discovery and free markets depend on a rational actor.

    This is a common misconception. They don’t depend on rational actors, but on selection for behavior that emulates efficient rationality. But that’s a topic for another thread; ratholing this one with libertarianism pro or co is declared off-topic and I will ruthlessly delete all such posts.


  5. I’m more concerned about the lock-in Jobs has inflicted on Apple users

    ESR, given that Apple’s lock-in is in large part technological (jail breaking is too cumbersome so 99.9% of users don’t do it), would you agree that the free market allowing technological lock-in is harmful, and that humanity should legislate against it?

  6. To claim that Apple users are more locked-in to their circumstances against their will than workers at Foxconn are locked-in to the economic realities of China and the global economy is absurd.

  7. >free market allowing technological lock-in is harmful, and that humanity should legislate against it?

    No. Technological lock-in is self-limiting, for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere in great detail (briefly, investor pressure for increasing returns inevitably pushes the rent up to where it exceeds the transition cost out of the lock-in). Legislation, on the other hand, is not self-limiting and is easily perverted by regulatory capture. The “cure” is worse than the disease.

  8. Eric, thanks for the comment. This is something we needed to hear. I am sick of seeing the man being characterized almost as a saint.

  9. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about Steve Jobs’s death; I’ve been dealing with a death in the family. However, my take on it is that Stallman can go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut – but then, that hasn’t changed, for me; I’ve thought that for 20 years – and I hope that Apple keeps doing what it does well: make good products that work well right out of the box.

    My history with Apple products is such that the uninformed would call me an Apple fanboy. Eric knows better. I use Apple products because I know they’ll work well and let me get the job I came to do done. As long as they keep doing that, I’m happy. Their effect on the wold of open source I’ve never thought of as all that significant, and even though I’m the leader of one open source project and a lead developer on another, Apple’s policies and the like really don’t affect me at all.

    Now, if they try to impose am iPhone-style walled garden on OS X, I’m going to have an argument with them. Then again, it looks like Microsoft is going to blaze that trail first, and take the heat for it, and Apple does well at learning from others’ mistakes.

  10. Eric, thank you for this post.

    It appreciates the man while not withholding criticism, but does so in a way that is not heartless or inappropriate.

  11. What disappoints me most, and what is probably just a poor restatement of your post, is that Steve Jobs, a counterculture hero, succeeded in seducing an entire generation of the “freethinking”, hipster elite into a more attractive set of corporate shackles. The people who are shrillest in their criticism of Corporate America hop eagerly in bed with a wolf in sheeps clothing or, perhaps, white plastic.

    As a good friend told me years ago, Apple is just as evil as Microsoft, just without the market share.

  12. >As a good friend told me years ago, Apple is just as evil as Microsoft, just without the market share.

    And with much better PR.

  13. Many of the obituaries compare Jobs to such as Carnegie, Edison, and Ford. I don’t think Jobs was an inventor like Edison. Edison invented the stock ticker, lights — together with switches, sockets, wiring, distribution boxes, and generation — electric trains, movies, sound recording, and the modern research laboratory. He also made contributions to the telephone. Edison pretty much invented the foundations of a large part of the modern world. I think the comparison of Jobs to Ford is closer to the mark, although Ford also wanted cheap. In any case, Jobs has had a profound impact on the aesthetics of electrical devices and I don’t think that can be walled off. People see, people want, the market will provide. Aesthetic revolutions tend not to last, something else, perhaps less appealing, will come along soon enough, but I think the idea of small, convenient, usable, and attractive will last for a while. And the gnome shell is looking more Apple like these days.

  14. I always forget when I come to this site, that ESR always stays at a Holiday Inn. I mean, I’m sure he’s an expert oncologist, who has read Jobs’ case file. Who knows exactly the timeline and protocol of his treatment. Seriously. At least Stallman had the balls to come out and state why he disliked Jobs based on fact, not on something trolled from a blog. Get a pair…

  15. @chuck Edison did not invent the stock ticker, the electric light bulb, the electric train, fil, or sound recording. He merely refined and produced the most popularized version using teams of other scientists and technicians he employed in his lab. The difference is: you are willing to credit Edison, but deny it of Steve.

  16. “We would also see a man who in the end failed to “think different,” in the deepest way, about the human needs of both his users and his workers.”

    The thing about Jobs was that he *couldn’t* “think different”. He was such an egomaniac that he couldn’t concieve of any other way of thinking. People who thought differently from him were simply *wrong*.

  17. @Pinhead Yup, not only did ESR say exactly the same thing as Stallman — he needlessly sugar-coated it while he blamed Jobs for his own death, blamed him for the conditions of Chinese workers MORE than the historic-economic reality of China, declared “cool” evil, Apple users enslaved idiots, and can’t be content with Jobs absence but, once again like Stallman, hopes that Tim Cook is incompetent. Because although OSS is “inevitable,” these idiots have just been too damn effective at advancing technology and putting it into people’s hands. Yeah, its the idiots like Jobs and Cook that have been holding ESR and Stallman back.

  18. ..darn it! concieve -> conceive

    I know…’i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’….

  19. What I find hard to believe is that after my Apple II in 1979 I’ve just gotten my 2nd Apple computer for daily use, 32 years later. In between I’ve had a range of terminals, Unix, Linux, and Windows machines, and this MacBook Pro is pretty much the best hw/sw combination by far – it’s functional, flexible, predictable, sw- maintainable, reliable, and didn’t cost very much more than equivalents in other families. In general I’ve supported Open Source not because it’s free (I don’t mind paying for quality), but because it fostered innovation. There is no doubt that the walled garden and capricious rules put around the Apple ecosystem have inhibited some people, but the benevolence of the control freaks have produced a better product while doing well themselves as opposed to Redmond which achieved only one and the Open Source community which has arguably done neither. In later days Job’s focus moved away from what formed Apple – he didn’t make computers anymore, he made Consumer Electronics. The computer is still a computer, but its anticipated use changes how one approaches one goes onto it in a way that is very different from Linux or Windows. With this change his later impacts revolutionized the music and film industries though at the end of the day his bringing Unix to the masses may affect our community as much if not more – except for true zealots the majority of developers I know have switched to carrying Macs over the past two or three years. But I believe this was serendipity and not an actual goal.

  20. Tim, at some point down that line, no one ever invented anything, they just made improvements. Edison fixed, in public, an early version of the stock ticker that had broken down, which got him hired by the manufacturer to make the improved version, which is the one the became ubiquitous. Edison did invent the incandescent light, and the use of high voltage was one of the innovations there. There was an English version, but it was low voltage, high current, and not that bright. I’m sure you can see the advantages of high voltage for power distribution. Edison used a French invention for the gate on film projectors, but the rest was pretty much his. He had Eastman develop the needed film and so on. Sure, that was proceeded by kinetoscopes and such, but the Edison version was the one that got the industry going. So on and so forth.

  21. @Jay Maynard “Now, if they try to impose am iPhone-style walled garden on OS X, I’m going to have an argument with them.”

    OS X has it right IMO. The app store, but also the “opt-out”. That’s my biggest complaint with iOS – no side-loading.

  22. @esr

    Eric, may I tanslate this post in french and produce it on my blog and try to make it circulate over the French Web ?

    You will be seen as the author of course.

    ESR says: Permission granted.

  23. @chuck You just said Edison DID invent this; no, he didn’t. Edison DID invent that; no, he didn’t. Over and over again. You don’t even realize you’re doing it, do you?

  24. @Tim F,

    The fact that Jobs delayed treatment for about nine months while pursuing alternative cures is not exactly a secret. Whether or not his final illness was a recurrence of the earlier cancer, and the role that the nine month delay may have had in his death is a question that will have to wait for more information before a more definitive answer can be given. But ESR’s speculation isn’t really that far out of line.

  25. @ Tim,

    Tim, if you ever mention an actual fact or date perhaps we can continue the discussion. But at this point is seems a waste of time.

  26. I kind of agree with your view about Steve Jobs, but boy do I wish for “our” FSF Steve Jobs, preferably Desktop edition. Linux desktop woudn’t be in such a sorry state if we had a little bit of control, direction and walled garden.

  27. I know about 30 people with iPhones, ranging from CS profs to nontechnical users, and I’ve never heard any of them complain about being “locked-in” to anything but AT&T (and now that’s solved). I’ve known 3 people who felt like switching from iOS to Android, and they did it without worrying about lock-in. The iOS users I know who stick with the platform say they do so because, like 97% of iPhone users, they’re happy with the device and their experience with it.

    Before I switched to the iPhone 3G, I had four different models of Hiptop. I was happy with it in the beginning, because it had a very usable interface, and was the only unlimited data device in the US when it started; but it stagnated, and it was more of a walled garden than anything Apple’s made. I promised myself that my next phone would be a *platform*, so I switched to the iPhone as soon as 3rd-party apps were an option. I see Danger as pioneering the first *usable* smartphone, but I don’t see much lineage between them and iOS.

  28. There’s a sucker born every minute, and suckers need a leader. They had Gates in the early ’90’s, Jobs in the 00’s. Who will rise up to lead the suckers next? Shuttleworth? Zuckerberg? Brin? Page? Maybe someone new. Whoever it is will probably do more damage to the future of open computing than Gates and Jobs combined. And at the end of their lives, their praises will be sung by the very people they despise.

  29. It’s always fascinating to see grown adults calling people with different choices and priorities than themselves “suckers”. Don’t get me wrong, I did my fair share of Microsoft and microsoft customer hating, but that was when I was a kid and it was just obvious that if you used microsoft products it was because you were a stupid brainwashed sucker. Now I spend my days trying to move a company through an OpenOffice conversion (because it costs a whole lot less money than upgrading the OS and office version on every damn computer in the place, and we’re already fully linux / OSS on the back end) and I find myself cursing the fact that OO is surprisingly behind the times in features that people use, even compared to a 10 year old version of office, and certainly to the modern versions which my users are demanding. Even worse is when answers to questions as to how to accomplish a task that my users used to do in MS office in OO are answered by the “community” is usually one of three ways “Why would you want to do that”, “It doesn’t do it, write it yourself” or “It’s in the beta / nightly / next version”. OO is nice. Freedom is nice. Not being on the upgrade treadmill is nice. Being able to code in my own features (assuming I could ever fit it in amongst the thousands of other priority one projects) is nice. But my users actually being able to use the software they way they want to accomplish their jobs (which mind you, generates more revenue in a single day than we would save avoiding the upgrade treadmill) is better than all those other things. Sometimes people aren’t suckers, they just want something other than the ability to roll their own.

  30. I agree with Toren in that I’m not sure where this perceived “lock-in” is. My contacts are all stored in a standards-compliant manner. My calendar data is all stored in a standards compliant manner. My documents are in one of many either “international-standards-compliant” formats (TXT, etc.) or in a number of basically portable doc formats (Word, Excel, etc.). My music is all DRM-free, my TV shows and movies can have the DRM removed from them trivially if I was so inclined to leave. Apps? Well, every platform basically requires you to find new apps when you switch, that’s not a huge deal.

    Here’s the reality of the situation, that the Open Source and Free Software zealots[1] don’t get: 99.999% of the computing world doesn’t give a wet slap about recompiling a kernel, or hacking in a new device driver, or any of the various “freedoms” you wax eloquently about. We want shit that works well, is stable, preferably is easy on the eyes, and does the things we need it to.

    And, for that, Apple’s products do an absolutely bang-up job, second to none.

    I mean, think about it. I’ve been reading Linux magazines for over a decade and a half, and every year was “THIS is the year of the Linux desktop”… and yet, today, still, not so much. But OSX has been running a UNIX-based desktop now for a decade now, and it’s one that puts every single “Window Manager” to shame.

    It’s time for folks to face the music and realize that while it’s good that there’s someone preserving open platforms, that the vast majority of the populace doesn’t care if their desktop platform is open, and they never will.

    [1] which is *totally* not to be confused with fans, of which I am one

  31. ESR, you sound bitter and resentful. History is not on your side, in fact, history will forget you entirely. The Cathedral won, get over it. Users want the Catholic experience, not the attention starved anarchic utopia you had envisioned.

    The 90’s are over. All you’re doing is writing tech alt-history and doing war reenactments from an era most of us would rather forget.

  32. Pingback: The darker side of Steve Jobs « Quotulatiousness

  33. I am amused at how Apple’s attempts to improve the conditions for workers at Foxconn have been characterised as “evil”, while other manufacturers who use Chinese labour don’t get a mention.

    The “economic fundamentals of software” are against the industry of selling software for money. That much is true. The “economic fundamentals” of managing someone else’s computer because they don’t understand software are very much supporting the industry of selling software for money. Until all software is so simple that everyone can audit SSH without reducing the effectiveness of that software, we will have software distributed as a commercial enterprise.

    The “walled garden” that FOSS evangelists love to deprecate is the safest way of distributing a platform and software to run on it. How different is the iOS “walled garden” to your setting up a Linux install for a friend and only giving them an unprivileged user account? You might be happy providing one-on-one support to your friend for the rest of their natural life, but other people prefer to be paid for their time.

    When it comes to books, the lock-in is enforced by the publisher. I can read my O’Reilly, Apress and other books just fine on any platform I want because they publish unencumbered ePub, PDF or other formats. It is now up to Apple and Amazon to keep pressuring the remaining publishers to drop the foolish dependence on DRM and recognise that most people are honest, and it’s only the honest people who will pay for books in the first place.

  34. Yes, tmoney. Some of us have things to accomplish that aren’t open source coding or supporting open source infrastructure. When i need to get things done, the Apple stuff gets out of the way and lets me do it.

  35. I care not about other people’s walled gardens nor do I care about other people’s love of walled gardens as long as I have the choice for freedom.

  36. >ESR, you sound bitter and resentful.

    You need to smoke a better grade of crack. I’m not bitter and resentful, I’m winning. :-)

  37. Eric –

    There’s been no money to be made in software for over 30 years according to pundits no less erudite than Thomas Watson, Jr.

    Yet somehow Bill Gates and Larry Ellison became billionaires selling software.

    How do you explain this away?

  38. I’m philosophical about the walled garden.

    I was involved in a discussion on a Linux board on similar topics. The denizens of that board trumpeted how good your understanding of Linux (at least, of that particular distro) and of your computer would be after you spent the time required to get it up and running to your taste. I had to demur.

    Part of the development of computing, especially personal computing, has been a progressively higher level of abstraction of how it works, with bit-mapped GUIs, icons, and mice the most obvious manifestation. You can own and drive a car without being a mechanic, or understanding the principles of operation of the four stroke internal combustion engine. You get in and you drive, and *learning* to drive is not that hard. If it breaks, you take it to a specialist to fix it. With computers, you often needed some understanding of how they worked, and some proficiency as a mechanic, to be able to use them effectively or at all.

    The underlying assumption of the folks on the Linux board – that everybody using a computer *should* be a mechanic, or should *want* to be, was profoundly misguided.

    I *am* a mechanic who likes to pop the hood and fiddle with the workings, but I don’t assume everyone else should be. I think of the ex-wife of an old friend who owned a company, and bought a personal computer to help her run it. She bought a Mac when her office ran on PCs (in the days when MS-DOS was still dominant). The computer was a tool to help her do work. She said she didn’t want to learn a whole new set of technologies to be able to *use* the tool, and she bought a Mac in consequence. She had a point.

    Jobs and Apple always focused on the UI, and tried to make devices that were as intuitive as possible. In large part, they succeeded. You *didn’t* have to be a mechanic to drive their cars.

    The walled garden is simply more of the same. You get your apps from the same outfit that made your computer. The apps are tested and certified to work properly with what you buy, and do the jobs you buy them to do. For a lot of people, this is worth money. Enough, indeed, to allow Apple to charge a premium for it, and Apple kit is more expensive than corresponding PC gear.

    Does it cut down on freedom of choice? Yes, but you know, that’s a *feature*. What many folks are looking for is freedom *from* choice. They really don’t want to spend the time learning about all the different stuff out there to be able to make an informed selection. They just want to buy a device to do particular things, and be confident that they’ll be able to use it with a minimal learning curve and it will do what they want. Apple caters to that market, and is huge in consequence.

    I’m not the market they aim at, and don’t use Apple products, but I understand the appeal, and I’m not going to look down on the folks who do use Apple kit. Not everyone is a mechanic, and they shouldn’t have to be one. they just want to drive.

  39. Convenience beats everything else. As Mark Pilgrim wrote (in articles I now can’t link): Approximately no-one gives a damn about freedom 0.

    (Not until the lack of it bites them, good and hard. Sort of like backups in that respect.)

  40. Remember when Steve Jobs strong-armed the music industry into letting go of DRM?

  41. RMS is ultimately defacing the work of MANY free software developers and companies. We do not deserve to be related to someone so rude and reckless. — Note that I’m not even getting to analyze the meaning of what he wrote. Personally, I do not care whether he is right or wrong. His utterly tasteless manners are enough for me to condemn his words.

  42. Yeah I have to agree, why are some OSS leaders so fanatical against what other people are fanatical about? Just more religious vs. religious BS. Get to work and stop talking.

  43. Let’s allow the open sores to have their linux desktops and Android phones. They think second best is “good enough”, and never will understand the culture of the hacker who has to have it right.

    Steve Jobs was a hacker of the highest calibre.

  44. Steve Jobs fostered a cult mentality in regard to Apple products, software, and uniqueness. It worked in the sense that Apple prospered and its followers became eager adherents. There is an important lesson here for those interested in the nuts and bolts of cultural evolution.

  45. > I’m not bitter and resentful, I’m winning. :

    Quoting Charlie Sheen now, are we?

  46. This is precisely what I expected of you, Eric: a detailed, balanced account of what you saw as the positive and negative aspects of Jobs’s influence over the industry. However, to quote Lumbergh, I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on several points.

    The closed nature of the Apple platform is not tyranny masquerading as coolness or artistic integrity, it is intrinsic to Apple’s model of quality. In said model, either it Just Works or it’s a flaky product. (By no coincidence is it that this aligns exactly with the perception of quality of computer hardware and software by average, unsavvy users.) The case-cracking tools and that sort of thing were part of a stratagem to make unauthorized third-party modifications difficult so the hardware configuration would always be a known quantity. You have no idea what this means in terms of money saved on support calls and QA and software testing, end user perception of quality, and of course the Just Works factor.

    (Nor was this strategy unique to Apple: My father still likes to recount the tale of the first time he bought a Tandy computer from Radio Shack. The case screws were sealed with Glyptal. My dad drilled through it and undid the screws anyway, told customer support what he did and told them, “Don’t ever do that again.” They didn’t. But then again, where are Tandy computers today?)

    Anyone who thinks we’re better off without the walled-garden App Store needs to go back and reread Hofstadter’s parable of Mr. Crab and the wonderful phonograph. Mr. Crab’s final solution to protecting his phonograph from being destroyed by Mr. Tortoise’s malicious records was to implement a labeling system wherein Mr. Crab would label the records he likes as “safe to play” and the phonograph would look for this label before playing the record. Even the Macintosh was vulnerable to problems when arbitrary third-party software was loaded on it, as anyone who’s had any experience with extension conflicts can tell you. The only solution to the otherwise intractable problem of what can happen when your Turing-complete machine can interpret any program written for it from anywhere is Mr. Crab’s. It’s not even a total solution, but it works well enough in practice. The iPhone (and iPad) are even more consumer-oriented than the Mac was; it makes sense to make them more resistant to crashes, plagues, corruption and possible malware infection that a more open Turing-complete device would be prone to.

    So no, this is not tyranny or some sort of power grab. It is simply a different approach to product quality. As always, it’s up to the market to decide. YoY iPhone sales growth, YoY Macintosh sales and market share growth, complete world domination by the iPod, customer satisfaction, public image, hell, even the fact that there’s such a thing as an “Apple fanboy” tell the tale of what the market’s decision is. Apple rules, and it has proven a wise and benevolent king.

    You need to smoke a better grade of crack. I’m not bitter and resentful, I’m winning. :-)

    Like Charlie Sheen? :)

    Look around you, man! When it comes to software that lets people get shit done (for values of “shit” not directly proximal to the activities of a programmer or sysadmin), there is usually one if not more high-quality proprietary package that people can buy. Meanwhile, developing the open source equivalent usually devolves into mailing list squabbles and half-done forks. And when it comes to things like putting Unix on the desktop or getting Flash the hell off it, Apple itself has single-handedly, effortlessly done what decades of open-source enthusiasm, activism, and hackathons couldn’t do.

  47. It would be nice if the luminaries of FLOSS would accept that they are out of step with the users that have chosen platforms such as iOS for the vast pragmatic advantages on offer. Having done this, they could perhaps examine the reasons for these choices and attempt to satisfy them.

    Freedom may be interesting to some of us, but it is not a marketable feature. Whatever his flaws, Steve Jobs built and influenced a number of businesses in ways that are deeply attractive to significant numbers of people.

    Perhaps the key thing we should learn from this is that we should be attempting to nurture and encourage opinionated, tasteful design in our software, so as to make it relevant and attractive to the people we decry the enslavement of. This sort of design is woefully lacking in so much of the FLOSS world, but where it does exist, it is frequently derided and dismissed as destroying choice, dumbing down, etc.

  48. Wait about Steve Jobs I see what A Smith said about an individual and society

    “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it”
    I think Jobs commit these statement.

    What RMS is saying is basically.

    “Our work , ideas and what we believe have found and Oasis in Steve Jobs death” I cant be agree with it in anyway

  49. THANK YOU

    …But I actually dispute one affirmation in this article. Do you have any references about the Foxconn thing? Why don’t they move to other plants if they could, are they paying less, or have even worse conditions, or are those employees happy to be building Apple products? All of those sound pretty unlikely to me.

    And about the iPhone UI, Someone said it was innovative. I hardly believe they invented the grid-of-icons…

  50. Jeff, you have a very good point. People don’t want their phones to become slow, buggy, and unstable, the way their Windows box (or even their Mac) can become if enough of the “wrong” pieces of software are loaded. Yet those companies that choose the “walled garden” approach always seem to have too heavy a hand in regulating what code passes muster for their device, and frequently restrict things because they’re not “politically correct” or because they just don’t like what it does. (Google Voice on iPhone anyone?)

    I wish that some company which makes use of an “app store” kind of approach would say something like this:

    “Yes, we require that apps be screened before they go on our device. But we will only reject apps for serious technical issues, such as that they are buggy and crash often, they unacceptably disrupt the functionality of the device as a whole, or they attempt to steal the owner’s service or personal data without having been given permission to use it. We will also reject apps for violating the law in our jurisdiction, such as showing kiddie porn.

    Apps that use ‘undocumented’ functionality but are not otherwise technically unacceptable, we will let through, but we will mark them with a note that says that they do use undocumented functionality, and hence, may cease working if we make revisions to the operating system. We will trust our users to make an informed choice as to whether they want to make use of such apps.

    We pledge to never block apps because of their content or functionality, even if the app chooses to replace some of the device’s basic functionality; we will only require that there be a clear way to disable that app and return to the original functionality, should the user wish to. As for content, we are not in the business of policing the lawful content that adult users are permitted to access. Pornography, “shock” imagery, political content, what have you, if it’s legal, we will not block it. Users who are ‘offended’ have an easy remedy at hand: don’t install the app, or uninstall it and delete it. We are not arbiters of taste, nor is it our place to be.

    We recognize that different laws apply to different jurisdictions, and what is legal in one country may be illegal in another. We will strive to restrict the distribution of apps to citizens of a country in violation of that country’s laws, insofar as we are able to do so; we cannot guarantee, however, that users won’t find a way to get those apps anyway, and, if they do so, they do so at their own risk. Similarly, we recognize the authority of parents to control the flow of information to their minor children, and will provide a means for parents to block the installation of apps on their children’s phones that they choose not to allow. If a parent allows their child to access something, though, we will not second-guess their decision; we will, however, permit them to change their minds at any time.

    In general, our philosophy is: we will restrict apps only as much as absolutely necessary, and no more.

    Sadly, I don’t think any app store lives up to that kind of philosophy. No, not even Google’s.

  51. >ESR, you sound bitter and resentful.

    You need to smoke a better grade of crack. I’m not bitter and resentful, I’m winning. :-)

    When the bio-picture of Eric’s life is made, I nominate Charlie Sheen to play him. Sheen already knows how to say this line. :)

    (The likelihood that Sheen will outlive Eric is pretty slim….)

  52. @ Anon
    “The big thing about the iPhone was the UI.”
    Still is. I switched to Android, but its just as locked down as my iphone was and much much more annoying to use. My next phone won’t be an android unless google gets their act together.

    @nic:
    “I hardly believe they invented the grid-of-icons…”

    It isn’t that, its just a much much easier, faster, better experience. Things are fast, consistent, etc. Its far fewer clicks and swipes to do what I want, etc. The /only/ downside I had with the Iphone UI was that the text message bubbles had too many wasted pixels. With Android, I am annoyed every day by something random in the UI. My wife independently also was annoyed by her android even though it was her first phone (she had little real iphone experience.)

    The iphone was in general far less aggravating.

    @ESR:

    The Android UI is just horrible, not merely bad or unpolished. Also, isn’t Android 3 “honeycomb” not actually opensource?

  53. @phil
    you can opt out of the app store in OS X? I don’t think so, not if you want the software that is available as digital download only. And it updates.

  54. It’s sad that you make your criticism on Jobs role at software and
    society totally useless by being a parrot of Dunning. And it’s even
    more sad that you did not even wait till he’s buried …

  55. The open source world’s opinion of Jobs, and reaction to his death, reminds of something.

    One of those splash quotes you always see at the top of the page here at Armed and Dangerous:

    Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man.

    Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.” — Robert Heinlein

  56. Remember when Steve Jobs strong-armed the music industry into letting go of DRM?

    No.

    What I do remember is iTMS still putting DRM on every file for an extended number of months after DRM-free music downloads were available from places like Amazon and Walmart.

    , and Apple fans quoting me Jobs’s one anti-DRM letter as if

  57. Stupid cat. Anyway:

    And I remember Apple fans quoting me Jobs’s one anti-DRM letter as if the fact that he said anti-DRM things somehow proved anything other than that denouncing DRM was good PR.

  58. You are factually incorrect, Steven. The first iTunes DRM-free downloads were available on May 29, 2007. Amazon’s store launched on September 25, 2007. I wonder why your memory is playing tricks on you?

  59. To put it this way: Steve Jobs did not invent the personal computer, the digital media player, or the smartphone. He invented the Apple I, the iPod, and the iPhone. Get that in your heads!

    He did impose DRM-style sanctions on the two latter devices, yet pressured the music labels to remove it. Oxymoron? No wonder they call it ‘jailbreaking’. (Isn’t it odd that they use the term quite unconsciously?) Also, I am appalled that no free/open source firmware has been developed for any Apple device. This is what is meant by lock-in, among other things.

    Indeed, he was very egotistical. When we see Apple on any media involving pictures, the pictures show Steven, P, and Jobs. No Wozniak, no Cook, no other people from the company. Yes, we are concerned about their secrecy, but in reality it is just Jobs taking up the limelight. (The only way this shall ever be corrected is if they devote something to, say, ESR or RMS or perhaps Sergey Brin.)

    He and his company did not contribute so much to free/open source software. Obviously. Google did a much better job of helping the community (although not recently). So what if XNU is released under APSLv2? No one will give a damn about forking it; all they want are the a_p_*P*/S/!

    I’m not quite certain about his use of ‘alternative medicine’, but that is uber-conservative to approximately 213 degrees Fahrenheit. To call him a ‘leader’ and Bill Gates a ‘devil’ is doublethink. Both of them were born in 1955, joined the computing age in the 70s, and formed an alliance well into 2002. One ideology should have prevailed during those years, and it was proprietary.

    I can agree that what RMS said was ‘Good riddance! Though I didn’t necessarily want him to die, just his ideas…’, but he is perfectly right. Apple fubarred up beyond all repair the minds of kids, teenagers and adults everywhere. Perhaps this is why people are now calling it the ‘iGeneration’. (Off-topic: a proper change would be to remove prefix-i.)

    {As much as I want to continue ranting on, and I do not want to let it end up that way, I am pressed for time, so I end my comment without any good conclusion.}

  60. @Jay Maynard
    >Now, if they try to impose am iPhone-style walled garden on OS X, I’m going to have an argument with them.

    Jay,

    Do you have any reason to think this isn’t *exactly* what they plan to do with OS X sometime in the next few releases? From their standpoint, doing so would be entirely rational and beneficial. Apple must salivate at getting 30% every time someone spends $600 on Adobe Creative Suite, etc. And as you see here, most of the groupies, er, users would cheer the move.

    One would hope the regulators would be all over this for what it is – anti-competitive practices. Also, pigs might fly.

  61. I just want to make two points.

    First, walled garden or not, I think the overall cellphone marketplace is much much more healthy with a strong Android OS and a strong iOS fighting and innovating to try to gain marketshare than it would be with total Android dominance. I use an iPhone right now, but I keep an eye on the Android handsets because I want to make a choice of which handset to buy. I do still have a choice.

    Second, I really really hate it when people second guess what cancer victims coulda shoulda woulda done that would have enabled them to survive. I lost my father to cancer a long time ago. Its a vicious, horrible, disease, and I would not second guess anyones reaction to how they handle being diagnosed with it… You shouldn’t have either.

  62. @Steven Ehrbar

    You seem to be slightly confused about the actors in the DRM issue. When iTunes was launched in 2003 the Big Five demanded to have the music DRM protected. The DRM was not Apple’s idea, but something they had to implement to make the store happen.

    During the about four following years iTunes Music store grew to be one of the largest music sellers in the world, if not the largest already then. That gave Apple some leverage. The Jobs’ anti-DRM letter was published in early 2007. DRM free offerings started spring 2007, initially the only big label joining this was EMI. The indies followed next and the three others of the Big Four came to their senses during a year or two.

    I’m not asserting Apple did it because they were purely thinking the customers. Surely there was a business case for them, but clearly the end users benefited greatly from it. The public statement against DRM by a huge online music retailer must have had other impact than just boosting Apple’s image.

    To the DRM in Amazon and Apple stores. You may be correct, it took ages before the whole iTMS became DRM free, but after spring 2007 the choice was not for Apple to make but for the content owners.

  63. It seems weird to me that you’re prepared to let people accept restrictive environments in their choice of workplace (e.g Foxconn) which is a classic libertarian position, but when it comes to computers you think people need to be protected from their own stupid choices.

  64. @chuck I think that Jobs can very well be likened to Edison in that Jobs rode the coattails of other inventors and took all the fame for it (multi-touch interfaces, the modern UI, et al) just as Edison rode the coattails of the true inventors of all the things you mention. Tesla, for one, deserves far more credit and gets nearly none.

  65. Eric, your opinion of Steve is fine. The guy was human and therefore flawed. That some of your points were incorrect or just cheap shots, well, whatever. The piece would have been better without them but that’s your face on the world.

    Your defense of RMS is not fine. The guy preaches hatred and I’m sick and tired of folks defending him. Fake account called him the Fred Phelps of the free software and that’s not far from the truth. You not only defend him but agree with him and while it’s not unexpected but it is disappointing.

    You think you’re “winning”. That’s just very sad.

  66. It seems weird to me that you’re prepared to let people accept restrictive environments in their choice of workplace (e.g Foxconn) which is a classic libertarian position, but when it comes to computers you think people need to be protected from their own stupid choices.

    Occupational hazard, perhaps? Techies like me have generally spent most of our lives educating naive end users about the stupid mistakes they make due to lack of technical knowledge. After a while, it just feels natural to try to save them from their own supidity. :)

  67. >t’s sad that you make your criticism on Jobs role at software and society totally useless by being a parrot of Dunning.

    Huh? Who is “Dunning”?

  68. @Tim F.: Google has yet to release source for Android 3.0, by the way.

  69. >Why don’t they move to other plants if they could, are they paying less, or have even worse conditions, or are those employees happy to be building Apple products?

    Insufficient data. All I know is that China has an increasingly severe labor shortage. Then again, that’s all I need to know…

  70. ESR,

    Nice write-up.

    >People feared and respected Microsoft, but they love and worship Apple – and that is precisely the problem, precisely the reason Jobs may in the end have done more harm than good.

    I pondered that a few years ago, around the time the iPod started fueling the sales of dark rim glasses and VW Bugs. Is it really the product or the salesman? Maybe now they’ll realize what a monkey dry-humping a refrigerator feels like.

  71. Well, chalk up another nobody making the death and passing of someone who actually managed to be somebody and make something of their dreams and aspirations into something that’s all about *them.*

    We stand on the shoulders of giants, but it’s unfortunate to read someone who chooses to stand on the shoulders of a corpse to elevate themselves into the light of attention. Congratulations to the author anyway, it appears to have worked. I hope it was worth it.

  72. @Erbo: that sounds like a very long-winded description of what Debian aspires to be, albeit with more emphasis on “pretty.” I’ve used GNOME 3, and it gets out of the way, looks good, and actually provides some added value beyond picking my own window manager and X apps – perhaps this is what we really need for GNU/Linux?

  73. @Alex. Yes!

    Foxconn is the largest electronics manufacturer in the world. A partial list of their clients: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn#Clients

    So why is Apple the only company taking heat for dealing with them?

    Is anyone here willing to bet that the working conditions at (e.g.) Huawei differ in any significant way? I wouldn’t.

  74. A little elaboration on my comments above.

    I can actually see a rationale for keeping the app environment for a device such as a phone at least somewhat restricted, for certain reasons. Primarily, those reasons revolve around technical issues, such as where a “bad” app might crash the whole phone or “break” its functionality. You do NOT want your phone to “crash” while you’re trying to dial 911, for instance! (112 for you in Europe.) An app might replace part of a phone’s functionality, such as the phone dialer, but it should always be obvious (a) that one of the phone’s “standard” software components has been replaced, and (b) how to remove that replacement and return to the standard configuration, if so desired.

    You also do not want apps that can dial calls to Outer Mongolia without your permission, leaving you with a monster phone bill, or apps that read your entire address book and send all E-mail addresses therein to FrickenSpammers.com. In this age when carriers are limiting monthly data quotas, you don’t even want an app that auto-downloads 200 Mb of data per day, burning through your monthly allotment and sticking you with high overage costs. And of course, we can also posit an app that secretly rifles through music and video files on your device, tries to determine if any of them are “illegal,” and sends a tip-off message to the MAFIAA. Those would fall under the rubric of “theft of service” or “theft of personal information.”

    And, of course, you have any applicable laws to consider, everything from FCC regulations to DMCA* claims to laws against distributing kiddie porn. And these laws may vary from country to country, or even within a country. Blocking an app or restricting its distribution would be perfectly legitimate under those circumstances.

    If app stores restricted themselves to those criteria for restricting or rejecting apps, I doubt many people would have a problem with them. However, no app store as presently constituted restricts themselves to that. Apple certainly doesn’t. Even Google has issues with this; they recently pulled an app called “Is My Son Gay?” because of complaints from advocacy groups. The courageous thing for them to do would have been to say, “We do not act as arbiters of taste. If you’re offended by the content of a certain app, don’t install it, or uninstall it and delete it. Also, complain to the publishers of the app, not us; they’re the ones responsible for the app’s content.”

    I have no idea why these app stores feel the need to restrict apps in these nontechnical ways. Most likely, though, is that their lawyers helped them draft those rules, and lawyers are scared of anything that people might sue over. In other words, the same reason that your McDonald’s coffee cups all say “WARNING! Hot coffee! HOT!!!”

    * – Back when Electric Minds was still running, I had a note in the site’s policies about measures we would take in compliance with the DMCA. I added a note to the end of that paragraph saying “This is required for compliance with the DMCA, and Electric Minds is not responsible for this law or its effects.” Which was a fancy way of saying, “We don’t like this law any more than you do, but it’s the law, so we have to comply with it or else.”

  75. @nigel: What are you, a tone-deaf man? ESR is right in defending RMS; even though, yes, he in effect said ‘Good riddance! Although I only wanted his ideas to die…’, he is correct in saying so: Apple has fubarred up beyond all recognition the minds of people everywhere, whitewashing the restrictive world that we live in.
    As for preaching hatred, it is to those who do not protect our freedom; to appreciate the corporate bs that restricts our activities is to be the bottom of a sadomasochistic relationship.
    >The guy was human and therefore flawed.
    Can’t that apply to RMS as well?

    @everyone: stop. esr was never, is not, and will never be, a charlie sheen. so what if he is winning?

  76. Steve Jobs, I dont think has ever claimed he/Apple “invented” the PC, Smartphone, AppStore, iTunes, iPad , etc. Steve Jobs was not an inventor. He “popularized” the technology to the masses — and thats what causes the technology to make an impact. If Xerox invented the GUI, but they sold a couple of computers using it, which flopped, and also had on some terminals for controlling their printers, thats it. The technology was going in waste. Steve recognized the technology had potential to be used for personal computers for everybody, developed the technology a lot, and marketed a computer that a lot of people bought or atleast was noticed enough for the mass-marketer Windows to copy it and spread it further. I think Steve played a very very key role here in popularizing the GUI and developing the GUI. The PC’s that were sold were better because of it.
    Similar in the iPhone — I have never used the Dagger or whatever it was — but most people I know havent heard of it, or used it. It would have remained a model, which a few people used — what impact would have. It is the typically fallacy of scientists that they recognize “invention” as being the most valuable activity — but they forget that unless the invention is used by the masses, it could be limited to none or very little impact on the world. I dont know how the UI of the hiptop was — but the iPhone was the first smartphone to be really easy-to-use and powerful in surfing the internet, and brought in popular use of multi-touch touchscreens (they were not invented in the iPhone, but were hardly in use before it). It also brought a popular App Store to the market. Thats where in lies the contribution of the iPhone. Thats why all the smartphones borrowed a lot of ideas from the iphone over the next years — including your favorite android — (please dont deny, ask Andy Rubin) — and all the smartphones that are available in the market are better off because of it. Also it popularized smartphone and made it accessible to the masses — earlier smartphones were so clumsy to use, they were used only by a few. Today they are popular with everybody, and have apps that can do powerful stuff — which wouldnt have been there without the iphone. Taking a single minded view that just because Apple controls the app store (but keeps safari uncontrolled), it is bad is almost childish in my opinion. Most people who use the phone dont want the fear of downloading apps from an app store like the Android market where nobody has checked the app out before you, and has routinely malicious software.
    Claiming that Steve Jobs made locked-in products, so he did more harm than good — is craziness. I have lost all faith in your judgement reading this article. He did not hypnotize anybody. He marketed the products. If people who bought it first wouldnt have liked it, it would have never become popular. But the fact is, they liked it. Millions of people liked the iphone. And thats why Android is also as good as it is today…. iPhone made the average smartphone available in the market “Smart”, and hundreds of millions of smartphone users today are better off because of it.

  77. Wow, just wow!

    Anon Says: ESR, given that Apple’s lock-in is in large part technological (jail breaking is too cumbersome so 99.9% of users don’t do it), would you agree that the free market allowing technological lock-in is harmful, and that humanity should legislate against it?</i.

    It's funny how often people offer to extinguish fire with gasoline. The only reason 99.9% of users don’t do that is legislation. Technical protections can be overcome (both “unbreakable” PS3 and “unbreakable” XBox360 are broken now), but for that you need cooperation among people who want to remove the lock. Where police does not enforce draconian laws technical measures also don’t work (at one point over 50% of iPhones in Russia were jailbroken ones). Thus solution for this “technological problem” is pretty simple indeed: It just does not matter how cumbersone the actual procedure is if you don’t need it yourself: just remove laws which allow Apple and SONY to sue people and companies which do jailbreaking – and get thriving industry which can jailbreak your phone for a small amount of money. Additional legislation will just introduce yet another layer of bureaucracy.

    chuck Says: I don’t think Jobs was an inventor like Edison. Edison invented the stock ticker, lights — together with switches, sockets, wiring, distribution boxes, and generation — electric trains, movies, sound recording, and the modern research laboratory. He also made contributions to the telephone.

    Please visit the wikipedia article and refresh you memory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison. Edison is exactly like Jobs: he rarely invented things, he merely made them usable… and then litigated, litigated, litigated. He made many wonderful things available for the rich and tried to deny them for the poor – exactly like Jobs, again. Electric trains, movies, sound recording and other wonderful things only took off when people managed to overcome Edison’s abuse of the legal system (you do know why Hollywood in on the west coast, not on the east one, right?). Android and other also face the same problem from the Apple’s side.

    chuck Says: Sure, that was proceeded by kinetoscopes and such, but the Edison version was the one that got the industry going.

    Nope. Edison version made industry limping around. He controlled everything: how many films will be there, who got to film what, etc. Walled garden at it’s best. Industry only started “going” when it left the east coast, moved to west and ditched Edison regulations. Exactly like Jobs.

    Basically Steve was Edison of our days – both good and bad sides of Edison were present. And I mourn his passing. Not because I like Apple devices (I own none of them), but because, like Edison, he showed people what is possible – even if in the end actual devices were replaced by production of others.

  78. Why are the comments on this blog moderated, when you so staunchly propose “openness”. Yes, even if they are viagra ads, why do you need to censor them? Some human (via a script) has written it, and they should be free to do it. Why are you trying to control information? I know its your own blog, so you have the right to censor it, but then even iPhone App Store was owned by Apple, and they have the right to moderate it? I view your moderation of blog comments equivalent to “lock-in” that iPhone App-Store has.

    In Apple’s case, users submit apps to their app store, and users use it — Apple controls it to maintain the app store’s quality.

    In the case of your blog, your readers submit comments, and your readers read it — you moderate these comments to maintain the blog’s quality.

  79. Pingback: Jobs death hysteria « ????????? ???????

  80. Fun thing about forks: if they benefit the community they live on. I’m pro-forking, although agree with Stallman’s statement.

  81. The HipTop?

    Are you smoking rocks, ESR?

    I’m looking at pictures of a SideKick 3 right now (which would have been the Latest Released HipTop-like-object when the iPhone was in final design).

    There are two problems with the idea that he threw them down the memory hole:

    First, T-Mobile and Sharp did that for him, because they never called the SideKick a “HipTop”. I was interested in a smartphone before the iPhone, and I never heard of “HipTop” before you mentioned it here. They never got branded “HipTop” or “Danger”; the SideKick was always just a “SideKick”, and a T-Mobile or Sharp product.

    Second, by 2007 it was a joke, in terms of “innovation” (rather than celebrity-association-based popularity).

    A trackball? Not touch screen? Even Windows Mobile phones were touch screens, and had for two years. The screen size and image quality that made PocketPCs look awesome*? The OS that was nothing remotely special, as far as I can tell?

    I am not seeing the “innovation” they’re supposed to be remembered for, here – even in the first model, from 2002.

    RIM beat them to market with the first “real phone” BlackBerry, too. People remember RIM and think of them as (historically) an innovator. Probably because, among other things, they beat Danger to market with their smartphone.

    So did Microsoft, with PocketPC 2002 devices; also arguably innovative in the smartphone space.

    Could you explain to us what you think was particularly innovative about the HipTop, compared to everyone else’s smartphones from 2002?

    And why you blame Steve Jobs for nobody remembering HipTop as “innovators” (despite not even competing with them for the first five years they existed), and not T-Mobile and Sharp and their own inability to compete?

    (* I owned several non-phone PocketPC and Windows Mobile devices over the years, and I appreciate how HARD it is to make those things look awesome. But the SideKick display circa 2007 does that!)

  82. I am now convinced. This blog is not “open”. The 2 comments I made on this blog post (were made in the last 6 hours) have been denied in your moderation process, even though they were nothing particularly rude enough to be denied — they just expressed an opinion different from yours.

    I dont expect this comment to be published — but I expected the last 2 to be published. I am surprised they have been not. This blog is furthest away from “open” that I could have imagined — Only 3 times in my life has any of my comments on any blog been censored out. All the 3 happened to be comments on this blog — and these were the only attempts I made of commenting here so far. And I have been gagged shut all the 3 times. I should feel free around here?

  83. Steve Job’s company might have operated based on ideals that are diametrically to the open source software moment; At the same time, his influence brought computing power to millions of people who wouldn’t have used it in the first place.

    GNU linux, emacs, gcc – These are not the kind of programs your mother; even some your siblings, would use.

    iPad, iPhone, iPods? Even your grandmother can use it! Where free software was only built for the most computer literate people, Apple built devices that can be used by all. Your comparison of Jobs with Ford is apt.

    He might have put millions of people into prisons built with platinum; but it was millions of people who had nowhere else they could go, who volunteered for it, to be put into prisons where they have good food, clothing and shelter. He has done this in three strokes in 30 years. (Apple ][, Mac, iOS)

    The open source & free software movement have made great strides towards user-controlled computing. While I admire and am grateful for it, the “user” in “user-controlled computing” represents only the most computer literate of all users. There is still a long way to go.

    It’s almost like the social welfare. On one hand, representing big government and inefficient but on the other it is helping millions of people everyday. One day it goes, and I miss it.

  84. but isn’t the huge success of apple’s lock-in policy clear evidence that the PR point in favour of Open Source has been completely lost on most computer users, even the most well-informed?

    moving to totally anecdotical evidence, I tried many times to convince my girlfriend (a huge apple fan) of the advantages of a free computing system: did several well-rehearsed attempts at showing her how she could do what she wanted with her data and so on – with no success. The curious thing is that she does understand the advantages, but ultimately does not care about them — but she does care about the cool factor.

    (Interestingly, my only success was in convincing her to use firefox, which is now her browser of choice. She was impressed at how easy it was to install useful extensions, and decised it was far better than safari).

    returning on the general point – dont’you all think that OS advocates have some serious re-thinking to do (apart from bickering over RMS’s remarks)? What if consumers relationship with computers is entirely detached in their minds from issues of “freedom” even in the more general, vaguest of terms? what if instead they see computers as fashion items, and computer manifacturers as mere brands? Maybe Jobs’ insight went far deeper than UIs and marketing: if Eric is right and in the near future “mobile phones” are going to have far more computer power than our laptops today, than this means that “computers” are going to be sucked into a market area strongly dominated by brands …

    I noticed a revealing linguistic habit of my girlfriend’s: a “computer” is only a desktop windows machine. An apple computer is always “a Mac” (and of course her Ipod can only be called an Ipod …)

    I think it would be still possible for an OS argument to be made in such a scenario, but it would not be an argument that involves freedom. Anecdotical evidence again: of the 5 friends of mine who bought an Android phone, three did not know it was an OS system at all (and only one had a precise idea of what Open Source stood for …).

  85. @esr

    It was an error that eventually killed him; the kind of pancreatic cancer he had was essentially curable with early surgical intervention, but Jobs insisted on treating it with “alternative medicine” that didn’t work.

    I prefer to believe Steve Jobs, neuroendocrine tumors, and alternative medicine on ScienceBlogs:

    There is, however, the chance of taking this argument, namely that Jobs might have died because of his embrace of non-science-based treatments, too far in the other direction.
    [...]
    While Jobs certainly didn’t do himself any favors by waiting nine months to undergo definitive surgical therapy of his tumor, it’s very easy to overstate the potential harm that he did to himself by not immediately letting surgeons resect his tumor shortly after it was diagnosed eight years ago.
    [...]
    [...] based on statistics alone, it’s [i]unlikely[/i] that a mere nine months [of using alternate medicine] took Jobs “from the high end to the low end of the survival rate,”

  86. >I am now convinced. This blog is not “open”. The 2 comments I made on this blog post (were made in the last 6 hours) have been denied in your moderation process,

    WordPress’s automatic spam filter does odd things sometimes. It threw all three of your comments in moderation, and I was asleep.

    Anyway, please read How To Get Banned From My Blog.

  87. @mahir256 “Apple has fubarred up beyond all recognition the minds of people everywhere”

    why are FOSS advocates so arrogant? don’t agree with them/have different opinions and values and you are brainwashed….

    I think the “religious zealot” label does apply

  88. My (social) experience with Apple phenomenon is a bit weird, because i don’t know if in your zone you feel it the same way.
    Where i live i see Apple turning its fanboy army into zombies “PRizing” them into sellers for-free of their products seeing Jobs as a living deity and iThings as gifts from the sky.
    I see people suggesting to working class families (with a monthly incoming of about 2500 euros at best) to purchase a Mac (iMac or iBook) to do what? Surfing the web, looking to some photos or movies… that’s sad to me. How could you suggest it knowing that it costs half of the monthly incoming and knowing that those people will use it about 1-2 times in a month? The same things could be done with a Windows desktop (~400 euros). The true issue about this is that those families completely trust those “PRs” because they (in most cases) are friends but they’re blind about their wallets.
    iPod is another big story! There’s bunch of cheaper player out there, but people want it because you’ve better quality… yeah, i don’t doubt that, but why do you need better quality if you don’t know how to listen to music or if you use the device when you go out for jogging?
    iPhone becomes a part of a dressing code coolness… yeah, here in Italy people freak out judging a human being about his dressing style :-|
    So, based on my (local) experience of Apple applied to regular (far away to be deep in computing) people is negative and amongst all these years Apple gained my evil eye :-)
    If you append the fact that Apple fanboys consider themselves computer experts putting Jobs on a throne and don’t giving a credit to Federico Faggin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federico_Faggin] and Massimo Marchiori [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massimo_Marchiori] is very sad especially when they both born within a 70 km radius of where i (and those fanboys) live.

    Cheers,
    Alessandro

  89. My bet is that the constraints that Apple puts on its products will persist, while the extraordinary skill at design will fade.

    What ill effects do you those of you who are revolted at the walled garden approach expect, when the walled garden is one major company rather than the whole industry? It seems to me that in a world where both Apple and open source exist, we’re getting the advantages of both approaches.

  90. …Apple has fubarred up beyond all recognition the minds of people everywhere…

    You made me LOL out loud.

    ;)

  91. “Many of the obituaries compare Jobs to such as Carnegie, Edison, and Ford. I don’t think Jobs was an inventor like Edison.”

    I think the closest parallel to Jobs would have to be David Sarnoff. He’s the guy that diddled Col. Armstrong out of his radio patents and stole television from Philo T. Farnsworth (and a bunch of German engineers). Not exact, but close.

  92. The only thing I really disagree with in the article is the suggestion that RMS was in any way rude. I thought his comments to be really quite restrained, and certainly not inappropriate or even ill-timed.

  93. Apple provides a useful testing ground for user-interface ideas. They put a lot of effort into simplifying clunky interfaces and making things look slick. The world is a better place because someone with significant market share is doing it. I’m not sure why their vendor lock-in bothers you while you are ok with the treatment of Foxconn workers. People that buy apple products do so willingly. If they really hated the lock-in they could just switch brands.

    Open source could use a few perfectionists like Steve Jobs preventing half-baked ideas from being released and frustrating the users. If these over-the-top articles about Jobs convince developers to add a bit more polish before releasing, then I say the articles are a good thing. The myths about saviors don’t have to be true. They just have to inspire others to greatness.

  94. “It’s almost like the social welfare. On one hand, representing big government and inefficient but on the other it is helping millions of people everyday. One day it goes, and I miss it.”

    Helping millions, perhaps corrupting millions as well.

  95. Pingback: Steve Jobs | treb0r.net

  96. Pingback: A week to reflect on openness versus walled gardens | TechnoLlama

  97. Mr. Jones’ comment above:

    “Freedom may be interesting to some of us, but it is not a marketable feature.”

    will be a most fitting epitaph to many things, both now and in the future.

  98. @esr

    > we cannot expect people to love tyranny in small things like smartphones without becoming less resistant to tyranny in larger matters

    This is the load-bearing element in your argument. What is the evidence for it?

  99. Steve Jobs, I dont think has ever claimed he/Apple “invented” the PC, Smartphone, AppStore, iTunes, iPad , etc. Steve Jobs was not an inventor.

    Not an inventor, but not just a marketer either. He knew what a great product looked, worked, and felt like and knew how to get a team of top talent to make that product. A leader.

    Jobs deserved the unofficial title of product development manager for the entire frickin’ industry. Before Jobs developed a new Product, the rest of the industry would produce rough prototypes that kinda-sorta worked but didn’t have the right balance of usability, ergonomics, power, and price to really take hold in the marketplace. After the Product was developed and had an Apple-branded implementation, the rest of the industry would produce clones and knockoffs of it.

  100. “As a good friend told me years ago, Apple is just as evil as Microsoft, just without the market share.

    The line circulating behind the scenes at Microsoft is “Bill Gates is inconsolable because he can’t copy off the smart kid’s paper any longer”.

  101. Oh, and by the way, the GUI work at Xerox PARC was very much of the “rough prototype” kind. Most of the work that was done in terms of making the GUI polished, consistent, and usable was done at Apple for the Macintosh. Most successful GUIs to come thereafter are so much clones of the Mac design that they even reflect the Mac’s memory limitations, nearly three decades after those limitations ceased to be relevant. The File / Open menu item was implemented because the 1984 Mac hadn’t enough memory to load both the Finder and a running application at once. Originally, all file operations were to be done through the Finder, which applications could call upon as a proxy (similar to how intents work in Android; even for that, Apple invented it first!).

  102. SPQR,

    Bill Gates is no longer heavily invested in the future of Microsoft. He’s too busy giving away the billions he’s made copying off others so he doesn’t die havimg looked like a COMPLETE dick.

  103. @Jason

    First, walled garden or not, I think the overall cellphone marketplace is much much more healthy with a strong Android OS and a strong iOS fighting and innovating

    Agreed.

    I use an iPhone right now, but I keep an eye on the Android handsets because I want to make a choice of which handset to buy. I do still have a choice.

    If Apple has their way, you won’t. They see Android as fundamentally illegitimate and are doing everything they can to destroy it via abuse of the legal system. (Which is different from Microsoft’s patent extortion; parasites want the host to stay alive). If they succeed, your “choice” will be whether you want the screens in your jail to have iOS icons or Windows tiles.

  104. that is low,, eric. too low for someone who sees himself a thinker and open minded person. not even talking about you blame on steve for open source not being a success. you could also blame adam smith, money system, capitalism and society. but that is not my point. you low is this:

    The velvet glove over Jobs’s iron fist was thinner that second time around; like most people who attract a cult following, he became increasingly convinced of his own infallibility. It was an error that eventually killed him; the kind of pancreatic cancer he had was essentially curable with early surgical intervention, but Jobs insisted on treating it with “alternative medicine” that didn’t work.

    i guess you are not only a software guru but also a very good oncologist. i am glad you can so clearly and ruthlessly name someone’s fatal mistakes. i have friends fighting with cancer, and guess what? they get any opportunity and any chance for hope, including alternative treatment. especially prescribed by a real oncologist, as it was in steve’s case. but you now better, right? good for you, dude. anyway, you do not seem to have any decency after this passage.

    very low indeed.

  105. ESR: (briefly, investor pressure for increasing returns inevitably pushes the rent up to where it exceeds the transition cost out of the lock-in). Legislation, on the other hand, is not self-limiting and is easily perverted by regulatory capture. The “cure” is worse than the disease.

    That’s assuming the investors are too dumb to shear the sheep at a sustainable rate.

    While regulatory capture can happen, it’s unlikely in a real democracy. The people most likely to legislate DRM out of existence are the Pirate Party, and it would be politically impossible for us to be captured by pro-DRM forces.

  106. Eric: Average joe sixpack and grandmas don’t have a use case for programming their own computers. But for programmers, emacs and vims of the world are the best of their class.

    Free software doesn’t have to be limited to the technical literate but we lack a culture and drive to build software for the average joe sixpacks.It seems that commerce is the strongest motivation for developers to serve joe sixpacks.

  107. Stop fairy dancing around it. Steve Jobs was an asshole. Open source is clearly the future, and he put everyone’s head firmly in the ground on that. The damage will take years to undo. Fuck Apple.

  108. RMS might not be a candidate for teaching diplomacy any time soon, but he’s right about the arty farty jails that the various iWhatever products represent.

    I’ve read most of the comments and there seems that the term “walled garden” is reoccurant and excites the people.

    May I ask: a “walled garden” as opposed to what? Gardens always have walls and gardeners and no, you can’t step on the grass, especially if it is MY GRASS.

    Even parks have walls and gardeners and “do not step on the grass” signs. Guess what, FLOSS is not forest or jungle, it is many interlinked gardens that turned into parks. Although the gardens no more have walls, on the periphery there is one with a sign “once you go in you never get out”.

    Being in is excellent, SO FAR! But if it ever stops being so, many of us who vested their IP into FLOSS might find it Freedom limiting.

  109. Guys! Stop blaming someone else for FOSS failing. That’s childish behavior. FOSS is failing on desktop and mobile because we waste our time on bikeshedding and flaming instead of simply delivering something awesome. That simple.

  110. …oh, and forgot to mention our unrealistic promises: “Stop working on that other guy’s tech. Take my pet tech, and stuff will be ready tomorrow.”

  111. > Stop fairy dancing around it. Steve Jobs was an asshole. Open source is clearly the future, and he put everyone’s head firmly in the ground on that. The damage will take years to undo. Fuck Apple.

    Hahahahahahahahaha!

    Apple has shipped more Unix-flavored desktops than Linux ever will.

    25% of the computer market today is Mac. Whither Linux?

    The FOSS crowd started first (linux was already firmly on a roll prior to Jobs’ return to Apple as iCEO in July 1997), and simply failed to deliver (as Mathias states).

    Let us remember that Redhat IPOed August 11, 1999, and VA Linux followed on December 9, 1999. Eric infamously posted about waking up rich shortly thereafter.

    Despite all this: Apple won.

    Deal with it.

  112. fake account, your conflation of “computer market” and “desktop” makes your comment simply more incoherent. No, Microsoft won the desktop not Apple. And Linux won the entire non desktop computer market. So bouncing around between “desktop”, “unix flavored desktop” and “computer market” seems only to lead to confusing yourself.

  113. Apple, via the Mac, now has 25% of the desktop market, idiot.

    Single-digits no more.

    Deal with it.

  114. While regulatory capture can happen, it’s unlikely in a real democracy. The people most likely to legislate DRM out of existence are the Pirate Party, and it would be politically impossible for us to be captured by pro-DRM forces.

    Your definition of a Real Democracy obviously excludes the United States, then. I worked for a CLEC in 2000 that offered dry-loop DSL service. When AT&T got the FCC to drop exchange-access requirements for incumbents that still get local monopolies, they effectively killed off competition for broadband. Recently, when some cities have tried rolling out co-op FTTP networks, the local telcos have succeeded in getting the projects banned.

    Of course, that’s child’s play in comparison to the shenanigans at the Interior Department.

    Regulatory capture is a probably-unavoidable feature of any government in which there’s a centralized location of power that people with concentrated interests can lobby more effectively than those with diffuse interests.

  115. fake account, good writing usually requires full sentences. Deal with it.

  116. @Jeff Read

    The File / Open menu item was implemented because the 1984 Mac hadn’t enough memory to load both the Finder and a running application at once.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you make this assertion here before, but it is unproven that there is any link between this Mac limitation and Windows. I remember using DOS programs that had File/Open or File/Load, etc. menus. Of course, those operated that way due to the single-tasking nature of DOS, but the users of apps like Lotus 1-2-3 on DOS were accustomed to that functionality when they started migrating to Windows, and losing a familiar metaphor would have seemed like a step backwards to those customers.

  117. Pingback: A Strange Sort of Prison, a Strange Sort of Freedom

  118. I was enjoying reading the comments, until someone started calling names and measuring you-know-what… I wish ESR would go by the Wheaton Law for bans. :-(

  119. Your definition of a Real Democracy obviously excludes the United States, then.

    Of course not. The United States is a banana republic whose government structure exists of, by, and for the special interests. Any pretense to being beholden to the Constitution or to the rights of individual citizens has long been abandoned. Heck, we can’t even get both sides of the political aisle to agree on basic scientific principles.

    Regulatory capture exists in Europe, but it is far less common and far less dangerous than in the U.S. Accordingly, European government regulations inhibit monopolies and promote competition, as we can see in the education and telecommunications sectors to name two.

  120. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you make this assertion here before, but it is unproven that there is any link between this Mac limitation and Windows. I remember using DOS programs that had File/Open or File/Load, etc. menus.

    The menu system and layout of most DOS programs was completely different in the old DOS days vs. Windows. The Windows menu structure — first File with New, Open, Save, Save As, etc.; then Edit with Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste, etc. — was a direct rip from the Mac. And then other desktop OS vendors ripped that stuff from Windows. It’s just copies of copies of copies of memes that originated in Cupetino in the early 80s.

  121. @Jeff Read: untrusted code can be deterministically constrained to APIs with an immutable, referentially transparent computer language. Turing completeness is not the problem. There are technological solutions that eliminate the friction that enables these corporations to exist. I don’t know how long it will take to implement these technologies.

    @esr: China is subsidizing uneconomic activities, which is causing inflation and shortages. For example, there is 50 sq.ft. of high rise office space in China for every human (infants and elderly included) according to Chanos. They demolish newly constructed buildings, and rebuild them. Massive political corruption. Ponzi schemes. The high savings rate is an illusion because the middle class has loaned out their savings in the blackmarket, which is now starting to seize up (reports of CEOs jumping off tall buildings, HK exchange indicators show the rich are repatriating cash). The savings is the banks has been loaned out to local governments which spent it on lavish, uneconomic projects. In reaction to the renewed deflationary spiral, Europe will imminently do $trillions of money printing, ditto the USA, and then global inflation to run wild into 2012. The “pay me later” (pull demand forward into waste) usury financial system is hurtling towards cardiac arrest, e.g. in China wages don’t meet personal expenses, and protesting is illegal. China has mobile execution vans.

  122. *Of course not. The United States is a banana republic whose government structure exists of, by, and for the special interests*

    Representatives vote like robots for their district’s interest. The common people are well represented in congress. They just hate congress as a whole, but not so much the person that they elected. Everyone fight for their naked self interest, but their naked self interest destroys everyone and everyone think congress isn’t doing a good job. So much for a voice representing you. All it means people vote on whose rights to trample on.

    *Regulatory capture exists in Europe, but it is far less common and far less dangerous than in the U.S. Accordingly, European government regulations inhibit monopolies and promote competition, as we can see in the education and telecommunications sectors to name two.*

    Pardon me, but having a better system doesn’t mean it is the epitomise of efficiency. It is like comparing a great American high school to a crappy inner school.

    Yeah, your rich kidos are doing much better and is destined to be bankers, lawyers, doctors, etc. Still, have you ever heard of spaced repetition? No? Then you failed to implement what scientists has already known for centuries about learning and memory.

    The point is, don’t act so mighty and highly when your system works a bit better or even way better. When there’s easy stuff to implement, your education system sucks.

    Spaced repetition is a powerful study technique and a low hanging fruit to boot but nobody is using it. I’ll be mighty impressed if a school reformer, anywhere in the world, manages to crusade and get it institutionalized in the education culture.

  123. Regulatory capture exists in Europe, but it is far less common and far less dangerous than in the U.S. Accordingly, European government regulations inhibit monopolies and promote competition, as we can see in the education and telecommunications sectors to name two.

    I’d love for anything that substantiated this claim. Its rather unbelievable.

  124. >I’d love for anything that substantiated this claim. Its rather unbelievable.

    It’s complete horseshit. I know this not just because I’ve studied the comparative political economics but because I used to live in Europe and have traveled there extensively since I became resident in the U.S. Jeff Read is, as usual with American leftists, projecting on Europe a dream of “democratic” socialism as he wishes it were. This has almost nothing to do with the sclerotic and increasingly shabby actuality of the place.

  125. If I think about it, the education industry in the US is monopolized by the government. Even if you pay for private schooling, you’re asked to pay twice. Most people don’t want to pay twice.

  126. @esr
    “This has almost nothing to do with the sclerotic and increasingly shabby actuality of the place.”

    As always, strong in idealogy and light in facts.

    Let’s compare the USA to the biggest European country: Germany. Below are the statistics that show that than Germany is more free, less shaby, and more competitive than the USA in all but one ranking: Financial Freedom. But that seem to be the Freedom Eric cares about most beyond the freedom to arm. The latter one is severely restricted in Germany too.

    So, just like Jeff Read’s claim about (all of) Europe is too optimistic, Eric’s is strongly biased too the other way round. A nice point to notice, the better the social security in a European state the higher the rankings on the honesty and freedom lists. So if you want more freedom, look for better social security.

    The shaby part (and remember that there are some other European countries with a total of ~30 million people beating Germany in every ranking).

    Democracy indec from the Economist Intelligence Unit
    Germany 14
    USA 17
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

    Corruption ranks from transparancy international:
    USA 22
    Germany 15
    http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

    Freedom of Press from Reporters without borders
    Germany 17
    United States 20
    http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html

    Let us look at the “sclerosic” part:

    Economic freedom from the heritage foundation
    USA 9
    Germany 23
    http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking.aspx

    Ranking on exports (respectively, note that the USA is 4 times the size of Germany)
    USA 3 – 4
    Germany 2 – 3
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports

    It is nice to know that Germany is selling the machines that power China’s industry.

  127. I posted the following comment, but it is stalled in moderation because I supplied links to evidence. Until it is freed, here is the introduction:

    @esr
    “This has almost nothing to do with the sclerotic and increasingly shabby actuality of the place.”

    As always, strong in idealogy and light in facts.

    Let’s compare the USA to the biggest European country: Germany. Below are the statistics that show that than Germany is more free, less shaby, and more competitive than the USA in all but one ranking: Financial Freedom. But that seem to be the Freedom Eric cares about most beyond the freedom to arm. The latter one is severely restricted in Germany too.

    So, just like Jeff Read’s claim about (all of) Europe is too optimistic, Eric’s is strongly biased too the other way round. A nice point to notice, the better the social security in a European state the higher the rankings on the honesty and freedom lists. So if you want more freedom, look for better social security.

  128. In the words of Wil Shipley, a prominent Mac and iOS developer: “Still angry how in 2001 Apple used their illegal monopoly of 3% of the market to force us into this hellish nightmare of devices that work.”

  129. @Some Guy
    “Still angry how in 2001 Apple used their illegal monopoly of 3% of the market to force us into this hellish nightmare of devices that work.”

    What about censorship on smartphones and tablets? Steve Jobs deciding what I can and cannot watch on an iPhone or iPad. You might not want to watch porn or Flash. But why should others be banned to do so?

    And what other content was all banned from the iPhone and iPad?
    (and I know you can still get around that censorship, but why should I be forced to read/watch things Steve does not like the difficult way?)

  130. ESR, why don’t you run a startup?

    You have the tech skills, the experience, the vision, the business acumen, access to capital, etc.

    Why aren’t you in Silicon Valley (literally or figuratively)?

  131. @esr

    I use Unity as my desktop on my laptop at home. On Unity, when you open the terminal emulator and it is not full screen, there is no way that I know of to open a new tab with only your mouse, besides going fullscreen, clicking File->Open Tab and then un-fullscreening it. The other way to do it is by pressing Shift+Ctrl+T. Of course, I had to click File when in fullscreen to know that. The point is, Unity is beautiful, very very very beautiful, but not very usable. I regularly run into usability issues while trying to use Unity. The way I access programs regularly requires me to type or go on scavenger hunts through the unintuitive but attractive interface. It seems like it was designed to save space as much as possible, be pretty, with usability not even taken into consideration.

    Ok, now that you’ve hopefully made it through that rant, I can reveal my true point: Steve made interfaces that were simple, beautiful, and usable. Getting all three is difficult but he managed it. He did not make lock-in “cool”, he made good interfaces cool. If iOS suddenly stopped being so closed, it would not be any less cool, because it would still be a fantastic platform. Even on my HTC Evo 3D, I regularly am stifled by interface flaws and annoyances, and things that are just stupid (for example, I simply cannot disable the Spider-Man app. It is completely mandatory that I keep the Spider-Man app on my phone for eternity). And they are things Apple would never in a million years allow. Not having a mandatory Spider-Man app is cool. Being able to open a new tab in my terminal without having to struggle against Unity to do it is cool. The vast majority of users do not know the meaning of true openness and wouldn’t care even if they did, because it does not really affect them.

    Also, ESR, as a little side question that is somewhat related – what do you think of Bill Gates? I mean, obviously you dislike Windows, Microsoft, etc, but I mean Gates specifically. Would you, for example, consider him a hacker? Do you think he is a basically agreeable person, with the exception of his views on open source?

    I look forward to your response!

  132. Pingback: A Strange Sort of Prison, a Strange Sort of Freedom | kevs-productreviews.com

  133. >ESR, why don’t you run a startup?

    You’re not the first person to tell me I have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur, and some who’ve said that were themselves successful entrepreneurs. The trouble is, I hate paperwork and I don’t want to manage people. The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.

  134. @esr
    “>ESR, why don’t you run a startup?
    …..
    The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.”

    It is always a pity when good coders/scientists waste their time on running businesses or writing patent applications. As an example, if Turing, Knuth, Wall, Van Rossum, Torvalds had founded startups instead of writing papers and code, would the world have been better off?

    Would they have been better off?
    (Turing maybe, because then he would not have been driven to suicide)

  135. @winter> What about censorship on smartphones and tablets? Steve Jobs deciding what I can and cannot watch on an iPhone or iPad. You might not want to watch porn or Flash. But why should others be banned to do so?

    Yes. Exactly.

    LOL (rolls eyes at winter missing the point of the Shipley quote)

  136. >(Turing maybe, because then he would not have been driven to suicide)

    Do not underestimate the hell that is dealing with businesses and the government regulations that go with them.

  137. Once in 1976 when the Apple II surpassed all the earlier prototypes

    Wasn’t this 1977?

  138. What about censorship on smartphones and tablets? Steve Jobs deciding what I can and cannot watch on an iPhone or iPad. You might not want to watch porn or Flash. But why should others be banned to do so?

    Flash was banned from technical reasons. Mainly in that it sucked. Why folks love flash is beyond me.

    If you want port that bad, I’m sure there are HTML5 porn sites now.

    And what other content was all banned from the iPhone and iPad?

    (and I know you can still get around that censorship, but why should I be forced to read/watch things Steve does not like the difficult way?)

    The difficult way? You mean using a browser? Other than the lack of Flash and Silverlight what can’t you read/watch?

    Would it be nice to have Flash? Eh, perhaps as a click to enable option it would be nice…but had Adobe actually HAD a mobile flash that didn’t suck in 2007 it likely would have been included on the original iPhone. That they kinda sort have one that kinda sorta works in 2011 is nice but mostly folks have apps or are streaming via HTML5 now.

  139. All you open-source types should be desperate to get rid of Flash. It boggles my mind that you tout it as a victory point for Android that it supports it.

    It is the absolute paradigmatic case of the problem with closed standards. Since Adobe is the only company who can make Flash clients, there has (until recently) been no competition, so they have not been motivated to do a good job, and this is why their client software performs so incredibly poorly. I would not be surprised in the least if Flash turned out to be responsible for 90% of processor cycles used in displaying web content, even if we don’t count streaming video. Now that HTML5 is finally becoming a credible threat, they’re releasing GPU-accelerated players, but it seems like too little, too late.

    As someone who makes most of his money from flash games, I can say that Flash is clearly on its way out (although it will be a slow, lingering death). Sooner or later, I’ll have to port all my games to HTML5 or some other (hopefully open) standard, but not yet, since the tools are not really available. It’s a pain (for me), but it’s also for the best… if we really are going to live in a world where computing is predominantly mobile, I can’t be running two CPU cores at 100% just to display a Godaddy ad in the corner of a webpage.

    Apple didn’t toss out Flash support for their customers’ benefit (whatever their press releases may say) but I think we should be thankful that they did it anyhow.

    It’s somewhat ironic that it has taken a walled garden (Apple) to get rid of another walled garden (Flash) but that is what has happened here. If Apple allowed anyone free access to the iOS software stack, then there would be no impetus to replace Flash on the web—we’d all have flash player on our iPhones and iPads, and we’d be stuck with Flash (and only Adobe’s implementation, of course!) for the next decade or two.

  140. “The shaby part (and remember that there are some other European countries with a total of ~30 million people beating Germany in every ranking).”

    The Economist rankings are clearly cherrypicked to make EU look better.

    “Corruption ranks from transparancy international:”
    “Freedom of Press from Reporters without borders”

    With the Chicago Machine in the WH, how is this a surprise? Should improve significantly in 2013, flying past Germany.

    Anyway, it’s an absurd criticism as it fails to recognize the relative anomaly of the tragic Obama moment.

  141. @Original JB
    “The Economist rankings are clearly cherrypicked to make EU look better.”
    “With the Chicago Machine in the WH, how is this a surprise? Should improve significantly in 2013, flying past Germany.”

    All statistics are consistent over the years. Irrespective of who is “in charge” in the USA.

    But as always, if the facts do not support $THEORY, the facts must be wrong. It is all one big conspiracy from the enemies of $THEORY.

  142. “If you want port that bad, I’m sure there are HTML5 porn sites now.”
    and other comments like this one

    So on the one hand you are telling us that Apple will regain majority of the smartphone market, and on the other that it is OK for Apple to determine what we can access and how on the iPhone. But that is the essence of a walled garden: PG rated internet.

    I can only conclude that you support censorship, as long as it is done by Apple.

  143. “But the Mac also set a negative pattern that Jobs was to repeat with greater amplification later in his life. In two respects; first, it was a slick repackaging of design ideas from an engineering tradition that long predated Jobs (in this case, going back to the pioneering Xerox PARC WIMP interfaces of the early 1970s). Which would be fine, except that Jobs created a myth that arrogated that innovation to himself and threw the actual pioneers down the memory hole.

    Nearly a quarter-century later Jobs would repeat the same game with the iPhone. The people who did the actual innovating in smartphones – notably Danger with their pioneering Hiptop – got thrown down the memory hole by Jobs’s mythmaking (though in this case some of its principals would later achieve a kind of revenge by designing Android). ”

    Down the memory hole? If the shoe fits why beat around the bush ESR? Just call the man the “P” word – plagiarist!

    Just think of what the combination of Jobs’ futuristic intuition, arguably unmatched zeal for marketing, minus the plagiarism (and such negatives), combined with a sincere dedication to freedom would mean for FLOSS. We would all take a bite of a completely reinvented Apple.

    Obviously dreaming:-)
    viper-2


    Freedom – no pane, all gaiGN!

    Code Art Now
    http://codeartnow.com

  144. I have no idea why people say Mac is easy to use. I am using Mac for last 4 years and still don’t find what is so amazing? I do like Textmate but my main work is on Ubuntu and use Windows a lot as well.
    Recently my friend got Mac Air and he was finding it very hard to install s/w, use the system. We had to go over the manual to use it unlike iBboys who says your mom can pick and use it!

  145. esr Says:
    > The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.

    You can get people to do that for you — cheap. MBAs pump these people out thousands at a time.

    People with vision, innovative ideas, and the ability to sell them, coupled with the energy to make things happen are almost impossible to find.

  146. I find it interesting that after pretty much insisting that F/OSS leadership comment on the passing of Jobs …

    @nigel
    “You know, it’s interesting that of all the folks conveying condolences for Steve Jobs none of the major FOSS folks (rms, esr, shuttleworth, linus, etc) have been reported to have said anything.”

    …we get criticisms of how they comment.. I think the RMS quote is tacky. I personally would rather say nothing than something crude… But this is a religious war for RMS, and in religious wars, there are martyrs and heretics. Jobs is the heretic of the FSF dogma.

    It is possible that people, one such being Eric (who knows his feelings and thoughts better than most), were biding their time so that their not-so-positive takes on Jobs’ legacy could come at a time when some of the eulogasms were over.

    But repeated insistence that it is rude to NOT comment, (“damned if you do … damned if you don’t”), followed by displeasure with what I see as honest (and quite frankly more measured than I had imagined they would be) commentary .. it seems like it was bait.

  147. I think the question here is wonder why people are willing to pay more and be prisoned in this “walled-garden”. Average person is not aware of the threats you are concerned about and the consecuences that this kind of practice has on innovation, but what they are perfectly aware of is the money in their accounts and theirs needs. And you know what, they spend a good deal of their possession in good, cool, useful, easy_to_use stuff! Irrational? I don’t think so! Stupid and masochistic? Think again!
    I agree pretty much of what is said about Mr. Jobs, but Open Source community focus on technical issues and the war against copyrights is making you to forget what people need, and how they want to get it. Free is not everything in life!

  148. ESR,

    “The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.”

    These things are changing fast. The company I work at has a fully functional subsidiary in another country except for… not actually having a subsidiary at all. Production in China, as usual. Finances, taxes are outsourced to external accountants. Logistics, shipments and even aftersales service is outsourced to logistics providers. Salespeople are independent agents who sell stuff and then just bill in their commissions. And all this in Europe, I figure given the more dynamic nature of American business, you could probably find a company who provides both logistics and accounting and sales agents can send in their sales orders in spreadsheets and they sort out the rest of it.

  149. @Jessica “You can get people to do that for you — cheap. MBAs pump these people out thousands at a time.” OK it is not that simple – getting sales, organizing delivery smoothly, hiring the right people in non-technical jobs takes more than just a degree, takes talent and decades of experience. But teaming up with an 50-50% ownership with someone who can do that is IMHO feasible. That was the arrangement in my dad’s consctruction business, the other partner managed every technical part of the actual construction jobs while my dad managed everything else, mostly, of course, sales and material purchases.

  150. @esr:

    The trouble is, I hate paperwork and I don’t want to manage people. The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.

    1) Most necessary paperwork has been replaced by online forms. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you as a technologist.
    2) Most CEOs don’t really manage people. They manage the enterprise; managing people is left to the hired help. Plus, almost everything can be outsourced. Then you’re just left with managing contracts and you can hire people for that.
    3) Running a business like playing a game except that the stakes are real.

  151. 150+ comments later…

    There is an air of unjustified arrogance in the repeated notion that Apple users have been ‘imprisoned’ in a ‘walled garden’ and ‘hypnotized’ by the charm of Steve Jobs. I don’t know why non Apple users feel that they know better about my own motives for choosing the devices I use on a daily basis.

    It’s not exactly news that the first GUI as we know it was created at Xerox. We all know that and we’ve all heard Steve talking about it. This isn’t whistleblower territory.

    I think the FOSS community missed a trick here. By keeping quiet you’d have looked much smarter. Most people involved in open source software already agree with you about Steve and those on the periphery may well have been put off. Anyone else probably isn’t interested anyway.

    Compare the energy of recent FOSS leader’s posts with that of Steve’s Stanford speech. Which one would you gravitate towards?

  152. Shenpen Says:
    > OK it is not that simple – getting sales, organizing delivery smoothly, hiring the right people in non-technical jobs takes more than just a degree, takes talent and decades of experience.

    I find that thinking amazingly old fashioned. It is like you are trying to describe how a 1950s US manufacturing firm works. Let me ask you a simple question: what is the difference between a traditional firm with a sales force, an R&D arm, and manufacturing division, a fulfillment division, an accounting department, and so forth. And a person who subcontracts all these functions out, retaining only their core competency? How is the cumulative network of contracts and distributed competencies different than the large firm?

    People to coordinate all the rest — we call them “middle managers” — are ten a penny. Oh, and of course you can subcontract the middle management function too.

    You only need to do the whole 50-50 split with MBA types if you want them to raise capital. Many, many technology businesses do not really need capital beyond survival wages and a computer or two.

  153. Since Apple has never had the marketshare that MS has, it’s viewed as the anti-Microsoft. If it’s the anti-Microsoft then it must be a force for good right? Wrong. Microsoft and Apple are both enemies of free software. I didn’t like how Steve Jobs went about his business. That being said, no person deserves to have his/her life cut short.

  154. You’re not the first person to tell me I have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur, and some who’ve said that were themselves successful entrepreneurs. The trouble is, I hate paperwork and I don’t want to manage people. The running a business part of running a business would make me cringe.

    And there are people who are natural paperwork mavens and people who are excellent managers. A successful startup takes people with about five clusters of skills, which usually means at least about three people. Paperwork people in particular can be hired, and not necessarily full-time (especially accountants and attorneys).

  155. Since everyone thinks that Apple “stole” the GUI from PARC.

    …Jobs proposed a deal: he would allow Xerox to buy a hundred thousand shares of his company for a million dollars—its highly anticipated I.P.O. was just a year away—if parc would “open its kimono.”

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/16/110516fa_fact_gladwell#ixzz1aOhgKTd3
    fairly short, highly interesting

    “If Xerox had known what it had and had taken advantage of its real opportunities,” Jobs said, years later, “it could have been as big as I.B.M. plus Microsoft plus Xerox combined—and the largest high-technology company in the world.”
    Doesn’t sound like Jobs is taking full credit to me.

  156. Steve Jobs deciding what I can and cannot watch on an iPhone or iPad.

    Oh, please. You can surf to all your porn sites with mobile safari just like any other web browser.

  157. “Compare the energy of recent FOSS leader’s posts with that of Steve’s Stanford speech.”

    Being steered by demagogy is usually a sign of being easily manipulated by those who want to veiledly coerce you out of your freedoms (political, economical, personal, or otherwise).

    Steve Jobs was a control freak that permanently seeked to manipulate those under his influence and transfered that aspect of his personality to many Apple products = Jobs’ speech at Stanford > hot air.

  158. “Being steered by demagogy is usually a sign of being easily manipulated by those who want to veiledly coerce you out of your freedoms (political, economical, personal, or otherwise).”

    Yeah, I’m aware of that. How you relate that to a speech about death though I’m not sure.

    “Steve Jobs was a control freak that permanently seeked to manipulate those under his influence and transfered that aspect of his personality to many Apple products = Jobs’ speech at Stanford > hot air.”

    So people keep telling me. Hot air? I disagree. Concepts are valid regardless of their origin.

  159. “Yeah, I’m aware of that. How you relate that to a speech about death though I’m not sure.”

    The Stanford address is about death now… right. And Moby Dick is about whale hunting. In any case you could say it was about life, but that doesn’t cover it completely either.

    “Hot air? I disagree. Concepts are valid regardless of their origin.”

    You were talking about gravitating towards one or the other. I am not about following “role models” or society’s leaders, but even if I were I would not be gravitating towards one that says “do as I say and not as I do”.

  160. Mathias said: Stop blaming someone else for FOSS failing. That’s childish behavior. FOSS is failing on desktop and mobile because we waste our time on bikeshedding and flaming instead of simply delivering something awesome. That simple.

    That is true, at least for the desktop.

    And it’s true primarily (I think) because OSS software design doesn’t have some one in charge of UX (and someone with a real understanding of it, too). I mean, “some one” per environment, not “some one” for all OSS software, naturally.

    Jobs, for all his faults, did that (directly and via delegation). He did that really, really well. Obsessively, even. And it shows.

    I’ve run linux for a long time – longer than I’ve run OSX. I’ve used Gnome and KDE (the big players), and some of the smaller ones. (Hell, I remember compiling KDE overnight on a DEC Multia.)

    They just seem to not get it at a core level. And even when they do get it a bit, there’s an endless amount of Legacy X Software that won’t follow whatever UI standards they come up with. And standards matter, a lot. Hell, almost any standard is better than no standard. They do “sort of good enough”, especially compared to, say, Windows ME or 2k. They still don’t, as of my last trial, come close to OSX or Windows 7.

    Until the linux (or BSD) crowd can dump the X11 boat anchor like Apple did, they’re basically screwed in terms of desktop adoption.

    Yep, linux won the server battle (at least for now; there’s no technical reason that one of the BSDs couldn’t “win” later. Apple was never even interested in being serious competition there; Apple’s a hardware company, and server hardware’s a sucker’s game these days. See Sun.).

    But so what? That’s like saying “free wins!!!!” because linux is notionally on every toaster. Maybe it won something, but unless you’re a systems administrator or web developer, who gives a damn?

    What matters to the rest of us is the devices we actually use – and Free Unix On The Desktop can’t even start to compete there, because the software for that domain is inferior.

    I want even more innovation and competition in UX and top-grade desktops. I want OSS to succeed there, at least as a viable third choice. But I don’t see it happening, not in the foreseeable future.

    (However, to give an apology for the OSS movement such-as-it-is against Mathias’ complaint, I’d like to emphasize that doing UX brilliantly is really flippin’ hard, and not very rewarding compared to Shiny New Tools. But if Free Unix is ever going to get out of the server ghetto and affect people’s daily lives in a way they NOTICE, it’ll have to do that.

    Telling people “the servers you use all run Linux!” is a waste of time – especially because it’s true that even if the servers ran Windows or Non-Free-Unix (be it OSX or one of the residual commercial Unixes made for server-land) their use experience would be … identical.

    OSS cheerleading* is a waste of time in general – doubly so when it’s essentially admitted that the space where people actually interact with their computers has been completely abandoned**.

    * All cheerleading is, not just OSS.

    ** Well, unless you want to take the position that OSX counts because Darwin is open source. But I wouldn’t. The kernel doesn’t matter. The UI layer does.)

  161. Sigivald Says:

    > Until the linux (or BSD) crowd can dump the X11 boat anchor like Apple did,
    > they’re basically screwed in terms of desktop adoption.

    Somebody seems to agree with you.
    http://blogs.computerworld.com/17303/ubuntu_abandons_x_server_for_wayland

    Granted it may be a necessary, but is not a sufficient condition.
    And I do not know the release target.

    Here:
    http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/11/unity-to-embrace-wayland-display-server/#comment-94684088
    it is asserted that the clients (GTK, Qt, Clutter, Window Manager) have to be modified to work with Wayland.

    And here:
    http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/551
    we get the estimate that it might take four or more years to really move the ecosystem.

  162. I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again: UI is not a group development activity. It doesn’t benefit from the bazaar model. There’s no reason you couldn’t segment off a UI team for cathedral-style work, but the idea that the cathedral has advantages is antithetical to the more fanatical among us, so it doesn’t happen as often as it should.

  163. Mathias, Sigivald, Marco, & Bryant, I agree, but the solution I am working on is to make the cathedrals smaller and modular, so they interopt (via their extensible APIs) in a bazaar. I.e. remove the friction that creates the distinction between them. This is orthogonal to whether the modules are open or closed source.

  164. And it’s true primarily (I think) because OSS software design doesn’t have some one in charge of UX (and someone with a real understanding of it, too). I mean, “some one” per environment, not “some one” for all OSS software, naturally.

    You’re still wedded to the Unix philosophy. Kill your Buddha.

    The problem isn’t in X11 itself so much as its philosophy. The whole “mechanism, not policy” approach was intended to appease the interests of multiple competing system vendors, not users. Kinda like how American politics is all about “economic freedom”, but in actuality serves the class RMS calls “the banksters” and the little guy gets left out in the cold.

    It’s wrong. Steve Jobs was right. You have to be a fascist with developers. Pick ONE graphical subsystem, ONE object model, ONE UI library, ONE desktop environment, ONE IPC mechanism, etc. etc. Do all the work for the application developers, short of building actual applications. Insist on your way or the highway. Make it easy for app developers to write apps according to a template you provide, and very, frustratingly hard for them to do it any other way. Hell, pick or develop a single IDE which serves as the standard development tool for your platform and generates template code with a button click. Then and only then can your platform expect to see the consistency and grace which comes so easily to Mac OS, and in dilute form even to Windows, but is nowhere near to be found in Linux or BSD. That’s how Steve and Bill did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

    I think I’m beginning to understand why that Lurker guy felt that Unix was so intrinsically user-hostile. It’s not the code of Unix, or the architecture of Unix, but the philosophy of Unix — the tao of Unix if you will — that makes the end user its enemy. You want to see free software win? You want to see a free OS achieve desktop market share above statistical noise? It’s time of the OSS community to kill some Buddhas.

    That’s what Apple did, and by so doing they’ve produced the most successful Unix in history.

  165. “If Xerox had known what it had and had taken advantage of its real opportunities,” Jobs said, years later, “it could have been as big as I.B.M. plus Microsoft plus Xerox combined—and the largest high-technology company in the world.”
    Doesn’t sound like Jobs is taking full credit to me.

    On the other side of the coin, Alan Kay, one of the principals on the PARC project which led to the GUI, has been nothing less than fulsome in his praise of Apple for what they have achieved (and at one point was actually an Apple employee). During the 80s he routinely showed videos of a 3-year-old operating a Macintosh to emphasize the potential of computers as a medium for children’s learning. (A 3-year-old working a computer? Unheard of at the time!) When the iPhone was released, he said something like “Give it a 9-inch screen and you’ll change the world.” Little did he know what Steve’s true cunning plan was. (The iPhone was a side effect of iPad R&D.)

  166. I find myself agreeing with esr and even rms. Even though I wish rms would have shut his yap if he couldn’t think of a better way to say it.
    The apple/steve worship the past few days would make him appear like the second coming and it’s sickening to watch. The whole web appears to be worshipping a deeply flawed man with a talent for PR and recognising good usability.

    Apple lost me as a customer when I had to choose between updating my iOS and running the latest apps or not updating and continue using tethering. Tethering was reintroduced a few updates later, but it made me realise the lock-in effects and run for android. Because of the control freaks at apple (and AT&T) I had to choose what I could do with a device I had bought. Needless to say Sony made it to my list of don;t buy from companies as well after the OtherOS fiasco.

    Funny how many people attack rms for the way he said thing but this underlying problem that made him say it gets completely ignored.

  167. This is all a useless discussion.

    Apple had the ultimate lead in UI in the 1980s and it took MS a decade to get something that even looked like it. They had the ultimate lead in Smartphone UI and market penetration after the introduction of the iPhone.

    And every time Steve did nothing to get it in the hands of everyone.

    There are 5 billion cell phone users. Apple is neither able to supply them nor willing to do so.

    What use is the “perfect computer” if they do not want to sell it to you?

  168. esr,

    You are pretty good at killing Buddha. Is Jeff Read right? Sounds like he wants a Guidoesque Benevolent Dictator For Life to do a FOSS GUI with a Allow Only the Best Way philosophy, as opposed to TIMTOWTDI. I think python’s success shows that FOSS is compatible with a Benevolent Dictator For Life. In addition I believe that python is easier for both beginners and experts to learn in ways that are not true for either Perl or the Unix software ecosystem.

    FOSS has not produced the great FOSS GUI we all want. Is that a historical artifact because of the Unix software design philosophy? Is it a flaw in the Bazaar development model? Is it something that requires a driven personality like Jobs? (And therefore the great FOSS GUI is missing simply because a person like Jobs hasn’t shown up with the same commitment to FOSS that Jobs had to Apple.) If so, is that compatible with a Bazaar development model? It’s been a long time since I read The Cathedral and the Bazaar, so I don’t know if it addresses problems which benefit from a single, focused design perspective. I can’t believe that hasn’t been hashed out here, but it was probably before I was a regular reader.

    Jeff Read,

    Did I grok your point?

    Yours,
    Tom

  169. @Winter “And every time Steve did nothing to get it in the hands of everyone.”

    While I fundamentally disagree with the “nothing” part of that statement (I think he did everything he could while not compromising to bring it to as many as possible), I get your general sentiment and I value this as a good thing. Of course, others here would say that Apple would like to keep options way from them and would monopolize and own the market. Personally, I’m much happier with a philosophy of “we think we are the best, if you can afford and want the best, come to us” versus “this will inevitably be used by everyone.”

    “What use is the “perfect computer” if they do not want to sell it to you?”

    They want to sell it to you, but by the time YOU want to buy it, it is no longer the “perfect computer.” It is you who is unwilling to buy, not Apple that is unwilling to sell.

  170. Pingback: Stallman: Jobs exerted ‘malign influence’ on computing | kevs-productreviews.com

  171. ESR mentioned a Steve Jobs manipulation that he was affected by, but then he never elaborated. Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight…

  172. @Tim F
    “Unwillingness to buy”

    Nope, Apple consistently price their products out of reach of 99% of humans

  173. Pingback: Stallman: Jobs exerted ‘malign influence’ on computing | Install Ubuntu

  174. “ESR mentioned a Steve Jobs manipulation that he was affected by, but then he never elaborated. Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight…”

    He switched their coffee supply to one that is only compatible with the same brand of coffee maker, milk and mug. Locked in. As a bonus the new brand made his victims more susceptible to his ‘hypnosis’ tricks..

  175. we waste our time on bikeshedding and flaming instead of simply delivering something awesome.

    I think that when it comes to UI, the capability to deliver something awesome might not exist at all within the Linux community. Most Linux contributors are driver or kernel hackers who think that the GIMP has an acceptable quality of UI. People who actually have the aesthetic sensibility to design something like Aqua are either working for Apple or at some commercial app vendor shipping apps on the Mac.

    Hell, decades after Don Hopkins wrote the definitive critique of X windows, the FOSS world still settles for it. Alternative projects ilke Berlin die out from lack of interest.

  176. It strikes me that shuttleworth is trying to do that for ubuntu. The problems are he doesn’t have a business model that is profitable like apple, he stuck with a shifting foundation that continually rears itself in the form of broken code or changed apis, and finally, like Steve accused of Bill Gates…he has no taste. Taste is fairly rare among geeks…you really need to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.

    That and his focus was both wrong AND he never focused on it whole heartedly. Bug 1 was the wrong focus. It is a negative focus. Focusing on MS is simply unproductive. Contrast that with Apple: it isn’t necessary that MS has to lose so Apple can win. And boy did it.

    Even is you accept bug 1 it seems ubuntu got distracted. If he really wanted to beat MS on the desktop then the whole focus should be on the desktop experience. No LTS or server work, just a pure desktop focus. One where the paramount concern isn’t F/OSS purity but creating a desktop environment better than everything else. Binary video drivers, working with video card companies, not just for open source drivers but maintaining a stable environment for their binary drivers, working with Dell to make sure any new release of ubuntu upgrades cleanly on the hardware that sold with ubuntu on it. Not switching audio to something broken because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    In short he should have done what google did with android. Only less developer centric and more usability centric.

  177. You have to be a fascist with developers. Pick ONE graphical subsystem, ONE object model, ONE UI library, ONE desktop environment, ONE IPC mechanism, etc. etc. Do all the work for the application developers, short of building actual applications. Insist on your way or the highway.

    As it happens, he didn’t do that on the Mac. You can go ahead and try to ship an X-windows UI, and unless you’re the only vendor in that market segment, the USERS will reject it as a half-assed, shallow port. The only companies that have been able to get away with it are Google (using Qt for Google Earth), and Adobe (using their poorly-executed in-house GUI compatibility layer.)

  178. Everytime Ubuntu does a major upgrade, it breaks.

    Nowsday, I just run archlinux. It’s on the bleeding edge but it’s not very complex compared to ubuntu. I can understand and fine tune it to my need. It occasionally breaks but that what I get for living near the bleeding edge.

  179. @Some Guy:

    Once wayland comes up, it will game over for BOTH AAPL and MSFT. It really is that simple. KDE/Qt running on top of wayland is easily at the same level as OS X Aqua.

    Granted, we may be 2 yrs away from that. But sooner or later we’ll get there.

  180. “I’m less bothered than Daisey about the nasty conditions at Foxconn, because those workers can quit any time they choose (a lot of other manufacturing jobs in China are competing for their hours).”

    Some chinese manufacturers apparently hold back several weeks of their employees wages. If an employee leaves, they may not get their due (i.e. it is an incentive not to leave). Not sure if this is the case at Foxconn.

  181. Pingback: Free software activist says he’s glad Steve Jobs is gone | Firstpost

  182. KDE/Qt running on top of wayland is easily at the same level as OS X Aqua.

    Well, I looked it up, and it appears to be an attempt to replicate the Quartz window server. That’s great and all, but why should I expect this to make KDE or Qt suddenly look like they got a professional graphic designer?

  183. @ Some Guy

    This is correct. I generally just see such ports with scientific software.

  184. >Granted, we may be 2 yrs away from that. But sooner or later we’ll get there.

    Ultimately, this has been Linux and OSS’s problem for a while now. You’re 2 years away from today, and in 2 years, you’ll still be 2 years behind state of the art. And I realize that it’s a huge problem trying to come from behind like that, but it’s where the ADD inherent in the forks of OSS software really hinders things. I mentioned earlier my troubles trying to convert an office to Open Office, and some of that as I said is the fact that OO is behind the state of the art. But the community was making pretty good headway, because there was a lot of effort and resources in OO. But now OO has been forked, now we have Libre Office too. Very similar code to be sure, but different. And that means resources split, and resources wasted on managing split code bases. And for what? What did this added friction buy the community?

  185. @Some Guy

    Well, I looked it up, and it appears to be an attempt to replicate the Quartz window server. That’s great and all, but why should I expect this to make KDE or Qt suddenly look like they got a professional graphic designer?

    I am not going to argue that aesthetic/perfection of UI is bad. I actually spent a lot of time tweaking every last pixel out of my linux desktop to make it look aesthetically good. It’s doable. The linux desktop though has had far more *fundamental* problems than the aesthetic problem. I believe (and that is just my opinion) that once X is chucked into the garbage heaps of history and once the tragedy it has inflicted on unix is finally over that the rest (aesthetics) is simply going to be a rather trivial problem to solve.

    The main FOSS unixes (Linux, BSD) have 3 fundamental limitations that contribute to a poor interactive user experience:

    1) Their monolithic kernel architecture
    2) X windows
    3) GPU hardware support

    Progress is being made on 2 and to a lesser extent 3. 1 remains rather distant, unless of course the expected bankruptcy of RIM results in the GPLing/unleashing of QNX (ukernel).

  186. @Shelby – untrusted code can be deterministically constrained… in mathematical models of computing.

    The reason untrusted code is untrusted is because we don’t know what it does, we don’t know what bugs our OS has, the processor has, our APIs have, etc, that the untrusted code might end up exploiting. Putting in place the necessary mechanisms to assert preconditions/postconditions and evaluate the “known & good” state of the processor and all the running software is prohibitive compared to producing a system which consumes very little power per unit work, and requiring all software distributed for that device to pass basic tests to ensure that it’s only using authorised APIs in a documented manner.

  187. Pingback: Endings and Beginnings » Jack William Bell

  188. @tmoney:

    Ultimately, this has been Linux and OSS’s problem for a while now. You’re 2 years away from today, and in 2 years, you’ll still be 2 years behind state of the art.

    The gap between the UI layers in OS X vs Linux is closing not widening. MS Windows is not in play here simply between the lower layers of Windows are a pile of crap. No matter what gains M$ makes in the upper UI layers, it is all neutralized by the shittiness of the lower layers. The best thing that MSFT can do is take its UI layers and run them on top of a unix core. But then again MSFT are their own worst enemies.

    I mentioned earlier my troubles trying to convert an office to Open Office, and some of that as I said is the fact that OO is behind the state of the art.

    OO vs. MS Office is roughly a tie. They are both unusable gigantic monoliths that are a bad solution to the problem they try to solve. MS word especially is a pile of crap. OO writer wins hands down. But when it comes to spreadsheets and presentations (the applications that are the backbone of the corporate world) MS wins. The biggest problems with OO right now isn’t the OO/Libre forks – although that is problem. The biggest problems are a) the piece of crap kit that OO/Libre uses. It neither uses Qt nor GTK, that is why it does not look native on any platform it runs on b) the notoriously messy codebase that has not been cleaned up (Mozilla rewrite style) over the years.

  189. THAKS GOD, REALITY STILL EXIST SOMEWHERE.
    I feel like I live in a nightmare where everybody is ignorant.

  190. No, Harry McCracken misrepresented ESR’s position. Other than ESR being a tad enthusiastic about possible early signs of Apple’s decline, his article was much more logical than Harry’s.

  191. I believe (and that is just my opinion) that once X is chucked into the garbage heaps of history and once the tragedy it has inflicted on unix is finally over that the rest (aesthetics) is simply going to be a rather trivial problem to solve.

    …and it hasn’t been solved so far because of X? Is that really your claim?

  192. Another journalist agreeing with Eric

    What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs
    http://gawker.com/5847344/what-everyone-is-too-polite-to-say-about-steve-jobs

    In the name of protecting children from the evils of erotica — “freedom from porn” — and adults from one another, Jobs has banned from being installed on his devices gay art, gay travel guides, political cartoons, sexy pictures, Congressional candidate pamphlets, political caricature, Vogue fashion spreads, systems invented by the opposition, and other things considered morally suspect.

    Apple’s devices have connected us to a world of information. But they don’t permit a full expression of ideas. Indeed, the people Apple supposedly serves — “the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers” — have been particularly put out by Jobs’ lockdown. That America’s most admired company has followed such an un-American path, and imposed centralized restrictions typical of the companies it once mocked, is deeply disturbing.

  193. @Some Guy

    …and it hasn’t been solved so far because of X? Is that really your claim?

    No. aesthetics is something, X is another. But there is some relation yes which I will explain. Aesthetics have been improving though. Have you checked KDE lately ?

    The way aesthetics and X and related: There are a lot of people who have simply given up on X. Now, when wayland starts delivering the kind of graphics experience needed (FPS, no blanking/flashing etc) all of a sudden you’ll see a lot more people interested in FOSS desktops.

    When wayland is finished, linux will be comparable to OS X on all aspects related to responsiveness of the UI, FPS etc. Getting a KDE/Qt to be at the same level of polish (down to the pixel) as OS X would not be hard.

    In addition to wayland, FOSS unix needs to take one more step before the snappiness of its UI surpasses that of windows (which runs much of its graphics code in the kernel space). That step involves moving to ukernels. The RTOS nature of ukernels, the scalability of message passing, and ukernel context switching algorithms which immediately switch context to the process waiting on a specific message guarantee a UI responsiveness that far exceeds anything we already have with monolithic kernels. Case in point: MorphOS -> check this video of MorphOS running on old Apple hardware (time 10:35 onwards):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1RsvEm7UrU

    In summary, all that is needed to “beat” OS X and windows combined is Wayland. uKernels (when the eventually take over) will make UI feel like a feather.

  194. @Uma
    “In summary, all that is needed to “beat” OS X and windows combined is Wayland.”

    I do not understand these comments. If a polished UI is all that is needed to conquer the desktop, why is everybody using Windows instead of Mac OS? I have heard it claimed that Mac OS is the ultimate in desktop UI design since 1984. But still people bought DOS2-6, Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7.

    If it really is only the design of the UI, why don’t people buy Macs?

    Or is the UI good enough, and are other factors determining what desktop computer is bought?
    (rhetorical question)

  195. Pingback: Why Stallman is right

  196. >ESR mentioned a Steve Jobs manipulation that he was affected by, but then he never elaborated. Now I won’t be able to sleep tonight…

    It was APSL, which Apple submitted to OSI to gain some open-source street cred. Then Jobs asked me to be on stage for the OS X launch; that’s how I met him.

    The language of the APSL was unclear, and it had a reporting requirement some people thought wasn’t OSD-conformant. We pointed this out to Apple and it got fixed in 2.0.

  197. . Now, when wayland starts delivering the kind of graphics experience needed (FPS, no blanking/flashing etc)

    Sorry, not buying the premise. The Mac had a highly polished UI when their window server had a tiny fraction of the performance available to an X server process on today’s hardware.

    Getting a KDE/Qt to be at the same level of polish (down to the pixel) as OS X would not be hard.

    I don’t think you have any idea what kind of effort Apple puts into their UI design.

    Also, I don’t get what you mean when you say “down to the pixel”. Every GUI out there has design elements that are specified “down to the pixel”.

  198. >FOSS has not produced the great FOSS GUI we all want. Is that a historical artifact because of the Unix software design philosophy? Is it a flaw in the Bazaar development model? Is it something that requires a driven personality like Jobs?

    I have some opinions about this. They’re worth a whole separate blog post, I think.

  199. Have you checked KDE lately ?

    I hadn’t, but what I’ve been able to find in the last half-hour or so of perusing looks to me like it’s asymptotically approaching a Windows 95 level of polish. If that’s adequate for you then enjoy it, but I don’t see it ever catching up with the Mac, or WebOS, or even Metro.

  200. @esr:

    >> FOSS has not produced the great FOSS GUI we all want
    > I have some opinions about this

    I wonder if your opinions will coincide with one of mine: that large projects need some strong management for their architectural aspects at least, and FOSS projects don’t generally have strong central management. I’ve certainly observed this with KDE, with everybody throwing in their own new features and dependencies with no consideration for the overall picture. Which for example has resulted in the requirement to have 2-3 different and separate relational databases installed and working simply to run a basic desktop, play some music and read/send email. There should have been just one, but nobody was there to rule on it.

  201. @Alex: When I say “modularity”, I mean higher-level (e.g. category theory) denotational semantics via static typing, and combined with immutability (a/k/a referential transparency) so the invariants are deterministic, and the semantic invariants are enforced at compile-time by the higher-kinded types. This isn’t necessarily complex for the user.

    Then via the APIs we can capability-restrict unknown Turing-completeness, see Joe E.

    Note that invariants which are not encoded into the static typing, are thus not enforced (but one can always increase the sophistication of their types as needed). There is no such thing as a perfect model for security. Even a walled garden (black or whitelisting) is insecure in that you may not be allowed to run something you want for your security, when you want to. Moreover a walled garden relies on testing for invariants, so it is unlikely it can do a more consistently exacting job than a compiler which checks sophisticated typing (this had not been practical with existing programming languages). The security model of gross exclusion (which browsers are heading towards also) is analogous to covering your eyes while driving to avoid crashing. This must be slayed, because given enough time for collectivism to amass, gross exclusion has a least common denominator of gridlock. Apple did what was expedient, because they have an outdated programming language. They succeeded in maximizing what they could do within such a limited model.

    In a debate about microkernels, Linus had explained why they would not work, and the only potential solution in that direction would be a “designer language”. Link available upon request.

    @esr et all: regarding OSS UI, I am looking forward such a blog post to learn from others. My radical claim is that the future GUI will be functionally reactive, so that it maximizes utility of multiple cores and so that it is modularly compositional. I provided the following explanation at my site:

    The real world is composed of values which change in time, but a pure functional reactive program inputs real world values and declares its output, independent of the order of time. For example, a pure reactive popup menu function which has a return type of Maybe[Menu], returns a popup menu when the input mouse position is within the input onMouseOver rectangle, and returns the type None otherwise. This pure function does not depend on any state other than its input, and thus it can be generally composed with any other pure function. Contrast this with the imperative event model, in which the event callback handler function can not be generally composed, because the onMouseOver rectangle is stored state in the event callback generation module.

    At my site, I proceeded to discuss the coinductive “real world” that UI interfaces, efficiency, and performance.

    I believe such a model will enable individual designers to focus their design expertise in their small modular cathedrals (which they may open source), which then interopt in a bazaar model. Even within these “cathedrals”, I see module-wise forge features, so they are modular orthogonal bazaars, which interopt in larger bazaars. This is the grouping of Reed’s law (see the prior blog where I explained Reed’s law is not an exponential fantasy model).

  202. @esr: If technological lock in is not harmful (except maybe to the company trying it) then why such animosity towards Apple?

    A propos lock in: The “lock in” I’m currently experiencing with Apple is not technological in nature. It’s the simple fact that the apps I want don’t exist anywhere but on iOS that keeps me using an iPhone, even though the specs of the Samsung Galaxy look impressive. (Although that’s a walled garden too, albeit one easier to get out of)

  203. This is one of those times when I am pretty much completely in agreement with ESR. Right now, SJ is being eulogized and idealized, but the reality of it all was more complex than these eulogies admit. Good essay, ESR.

  204. >@esr: If technological lock in is not harmful (except maybe to the company trying it) then why such animosity towards Apple?

    I didn’t say it wasn’t harmful. It’s just less harmful than political attempts to fix it.

  205. >>Jobs’s success at hypnotizing millions of people into a perverse love for the walled garden is more dangerous to freedom in the long term than Bill Gates’s efficient but brutal and unattractive corporatism. People feared and respected Microsoft, but they love and worship Apple – and that is precisely the problem, precisely the reason Jobs may in the end have done more harm than good.

    RMS, for all his flaws, understands that the stakes in this argument go beyond narrow issues like what computer or smartphone to buy. Human cognition is messy and all sorts of ethical and aesthetic reasoning run together in peoples’ heads; we cannot expect people to love tyranny in small things like smartphones without becoming less resistant to tyranny in larger matters.<<

    Ah yes, us poor unwashed, unenlightened masses. Culture is so powerful because it is difficult to change. Culture is difficult to change because it can only be changed authentically. Hypnosis does not change culture. Hypnosis does not make people fall in love. People only fall in love when their lives are drastically changed for the better. People remain in love until their lives are drastically changed for the worse. This love can be exploited for ulterior purposes, but it cannot faked.

    People have fallen in love with Apple despite its walled garden approach to things, because unless one is an fundamentalist libertarian, and as long as one can freely move between walled gardens of one's choosing, walled gardens bring many more benefits than costs. Hell, society is a walled garden – we allow the good things in, and try to keep the bad things out. I appreciate the fact that society disincentivises a random stranger from coming into my house and shooting me, despite the apparent reduction in his (and my) 'freedom'.

    One point, however, needs to be reiterated. Both walled gardens and wild jungles are best when there is more than one of them, and people are free to come and go to whichever ones they choose, provided they always play by the rules (or the lack thereof). Think Swiss cantons… Many diverse gardens (of different wilderness levels and wall types) create flexibility, experimentation, innovation – it is competition between patterns, visions, and ways of doing things. One single way of doing things is bad, regardless of how permissive or restrictive it is. I would want the whole world to be Sweden no more than I would want the whole world to be North Korea!

    This is why iOS today is fundamentally different from, and much less oppressive Windows in its heyday. Apple does not prevent competitors from offering alternative visions, and it does not prevent any of its customers or partners from leaving. "My way… or any other way but my way, but without me" (which was Jobs's actual approach) is not tyrannical; "my way or you're dead" is.

  206. “… as long as one can freely move between walled gardens of one’s choosing, walled gardens bring many more benefits than costs…”
    Writing from the walled garden of my home I can only agree…

  207. One of the major “features” of freedom is choice. So if a user CHOOSES to use a proprietory OS/device it is their choice and should therefore be respected. Considering the number of people who choose proprietory systems over FLOSS ones it would appear that the FLOSS choice is somehow limiting.

    As an example from personal experience, getting Bluetooth audio (a2dp) to work on my Ubuntu laptop was an excercize that required a shell script and me to select individual audio streams to be pushed to the headphones, and those streams could only be pushed while they were playing. This was a Dell laptop with Ubuntu installed from factory, when I put Win7 on it all of a sudden it was very easy to use my headphones…

    To this day I don’t see a constraint in what I want to do on OS X or iOS, no more than I did on any other platform. If I want something not supported out of the box on iOS I have to “jailbreak”, if I want it on Android I have to root. Likewise for PC OS’s Windows, Linux and OS X allow me to install any software that I want as long as its compatible with the OS, if any software I want is not compatible/existant with the OS I would have to write my own. Only freedom is that on Linux I could see the code of the OS itself except I really don’t care so its a bit of a moot point.

  208. As a concept, a walled garden isn’t a bad thing, so long as YOU are in control. A walled garden with beautiful landscaping and helpful staff who take good care of you and helpfully put unruly denizens in straitjackets is called a mental asylum.

  209. Pingback: “…ich bin froh, dass er weg ist.” – Tobias Bernard

  210. One thing I forgot about is Jobs’s own quote “Great artists ship”

    All the freedom and innovation means NOTHING if it doesn’t get into the hands of your customers. Look at WebOS, IMO it’s the best mobile OS out there. It’s great in many ways but Palm (and later HP) failed to ship on time and their marketing efforts were full of fail. Now WebOS doesn’t exist, same thing with Nokia’s Meego/Symbian great OS’s, they have excellent presence in Europe but again Meego took too long to ship and was overshadowed by iOS/Android.

    Apple has a 25% desktop market share with their UNIX based OS.
    Linux (all its various flavors) has 1-2%, clearly Apple is doing something right here as UNIX roots don’t seem to be a hinderance to adoption.

  211. I do not understand these comments. If a polished UI is all that is needed to conquer the desktop, why is everybody using Windows instead of Mac OS?

    It isn’t.

    I’ll call them Shenpen’s Three Laws because he has mentioned them as basic expectations of an OS platform at various points in this blog’s history:

    1) An OS must be usable by anyone, especially blue-collar workers on dingy shop floors.

    2) An OS must fully and seamlessly support any device which might conceivably be connected to the computer running it — no exceptions.

    3) An OS must be able to perfectly run any piece of software written for it in both its current version and all previous versions of itself — no exceptions.

    As unreasonable as these criteria might sound, Windows comes pretty close to upholding all three of them. Mac OS does excellent at #1, fair-to-middlin at #2, and badly at #3, especially since the PPC-to-x86 transition.

    Linux, BSD, etc. score zero on all three points. That is why they fail.

  212. @kiba

    Q: how do you know someone’s running archlinux

    A: they’ll tell you

  213. As unreasonable as these criteria might sound, Windows comes pretty close to upholding all three of them. Mac OS does excellent at #1, fair-to-middlin at #2, and badly at #3, especially since the PPC-to-x86 transition.

    1) Windows is only “usable” because it has had the benefit of having a very large installed base, and therefore it has a large number of people who know how to use it. Set a person down who has never used a computer before in front of a Windows machine — with no help beyond teaching them how to play Windows Solitaire to build mousing skills — and they will be lost. Ditto goes for Mac OS X, although its usability is a bit better than Windows’

    2) Windows does not even come close meet this criteria. Go get an HP PhotoSmart P1000 (available refurbished from several online vendors) and plug it into a Windows 7 laptop. Let me know how you do. This is not even close to the only example I have. And Mac OS is horrific at it unless you limit yourself to Apple hardware.

    3) Windows is utter fail at this. I have hundreds of gigabytes of old Win32 code sitting on a filer that won’t run on Windows 7.

    But if you repeat a lie long and loud enough, I guess people will start to believe it.

  214. @Nigel

    It strikes me that shuttleworth is trying to do that for ubuntu. The problems are he doesn’t have a business model that is profitable like apple, he stuck with a shifting foundation that continually rears itself in the form of broken code or changed apis, and finally, like Steve accused of Bill Gates…he has no taste. Taste is fairly rare among geeks…you really need to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.

    That and his focus was both wrong AND he never focused on it whole heartedly. Bug 1 was the wrong focus. It is a negative focus.
    [...]

    You should read the description of bug #1. It’s not “kill M$”. It’s a positive message about going for widespread adoption of free software (linux, ubuntu, …) on the desktop.
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1

    You can see this as Shuttleworth’s main goal, and a lot of what Shuttleworth/Canonical/Ubuntu do can be seen as experiments, as trying to figure out what is required to make that happen.
    Ubuntu is an answer (one out of many possible answers) to questions such as
    – can you take a linux distro and turn it in a marketable product (focusing end-user experience, integration, “look-and-feel”, rather than wasting time and resources on starting from scratch) ?
    – can you get the benefits of “release soon, release often” applied to such a product ? Can you reconcile it with a business need for stability and managed change ?
    – can you combine open source community culture with corporate style things such as unified goals and vision ?

    They obviously look into technical innovations as well, again with “joe sixpack’ end-user focus (eg unity, wayland vs X)

    Lastly, they — or at list Mark Shuttleworth himself– also look at the production side, the development model. I thought his ideas and proposals about upstream cadence and meta-cycles and such, were interesting : he’s actually looking for ways to improve the open source development model, make it better fit commercially viable, mass-marketed Free Software.

    They don’t get all the answers right, and they screw up on occasion, and Shuttleworth doesn’t seem to have the cloud it takes to change behavior in the open source community (yet?), but they’re asking the right(*) questions and testing their hypotheses — that’s a big step forward from “build it and they’ll come” ; that approach clearly did not work for the desktop.

    (*) assuming the desktop is still a target worth going for …

  215. @slava “Apple has a 25% desktop market share with their UNIX based OS”

    that’s BS. Not disagreeing with your point, but that 25% # simply isn’t true. 25% of some weird subset of the whole market maybe. But not true for US, not true for world. Google it

  216. @kn

    Bug 1:

    “Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace.
    This is a bug, which Ubuntu is designed to fix.”

    First, this isn’t a bug. Someone else’s success isn’t a bug to fix.

    “Non-free software is holding back innovation in the IT industry, restricting access to IT to a small part of the world’s population and limiting the ability of software developers to reach their full potential, globally. This bug is widely evident in the PC industry.”

    This is a negative. You aren’t telling me why “free” software is great. You’re telling me that non-free software is ebil from a specific point of view that is divorced from reality. The pace of innovation within the vastly non-free silicon valley outpaces that from anywhere else.

    “Steps to repeat:

    1. Visit a local PC store.

    What happens:
    2. Observe that a majority of PCs for sale have non-free software pre-installed.
    3. Observe very few PCs with Ubuntu and free software pre-installed.

    What should happen:
    1. A majority of the PCs for sale should include only free software like Ubuntu.
    2. Ubuntu should be marketed in a way such that its amazing features and benefits would be apparent and known by all.
    3. The system shall become more and more user friendly as time passes.”

    1. Why should ONLY free software be included? What happened to choice?
    2. In order for Ubuntu be marketed as amazing, it should BE amazing.
    3. If the system isn’t user friendly to begin with it’s going to fail when all “non-free” options are easier to use.

    It’s a positive message about going for widespread adoption of free software (linux, ubuntu, …) on the desktop.

    Heck no. The problem isn’t couched in terms of “Linux should be made better so many new folks will use it” but in terms of “It is a problem that MS has majority share”.

    It’s not a problem that MS has majority share. It’s a symptom. The problem is linux sucked and continues to suck in comparison to OSX and Windows on the desktop. The result is the current market breakdown.

    You can see this as Shuttleworth’s main goal, and a lot of what Shuttleworth/Canonical/Ubuntu do can be seen as experiments, as trying to figure out what is required to make that happen.

    They obviously look into technical innovations as well, again with “joe sixpack’ end-user focus (eg unity, wayland vs X)

    Ubuntu launched in 2004. Since it’s been meandering around the map. Taking share from other distros to be sure but not growing Linux desktop market share at all. Something like Wayland should have been obviously needed in 2004 (or at least X obviously a handicap). OSX had been around since 2001 and X derided in the Unix Haters Handbook from 94.

    Frankly Shuttleworth can’t get there from here. He’s unwilling to make the choices that will piss many people off to get there from here.

  217. One thing I can say for sure: this thread has made me feel better about being a Mac user, and less guilty about never following through on getting a Linux PC up and running…

  218. If I want something not supported out of the box on iOS I have to “jailbreak”, if I want it on Android I have to root.

    This is incorrect; I’m not sure where you heard you had to root Android to run apps not on the Market, there’s even a checkbox built-in specifically to allow it (keeping it off prevents trojans from being loaded, I guess).

    I’ve heard that AT&T doesn’t allow this on their Android phones, I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, just avoid AT&T as a carrier.

  219. @nigel
    > First, this isn’t a bug. Someone else’s success isn’t a bug to fix.
    consider it a literary technique. You may need a certain sense of humor to get it.

    >This is a negative. You aren’t telling me why “free” software is great. You’re telling me that non-free software is ebil from a specific point of view that is divorced from reality. The pace of innovation within the vastly non-free silicon valley outpaces that from anywhere else.

    I’ll give you this one as not positive – it’s a short summary of the rational for open source : scalable parallel development, building on existing code rather than solve the same problem over and over again, etc. The author assumes the reader is familiar with esr’s and/or rms’s reasoning as to why free/open source software is preferable.

    There’s no mention of “ebil” there. That’s your bias showing, or something.

    > Heck no. The problem isn’t couched in terms of “Linux should be made better so many new folks will use it” but in terms of “It is a problem that MS has majority share”.

    Strange how you don’t see broad availability, support by OEMS, “amazing features and benefits apparent and known by all” and “more and more user friendly ” as terms of “Linux should be made better so many new folks will use”.

  220. >>>consider it a literary technique. You may need a certain sense of humor to get it.

    Either it’s a bug report (a technical document) or it’s literature. Either it’s meant to be taken seriously or it isn’t. Try submitting a satirical bug report at work sometime, see where it gets you.

    >>>Strange how you don’t see broad availability, support by OEMS, “amazing features and benefits apparent and known by all” and “more and more user friendly ” as terms of “Linux should be made better so many new folks will use”.

    What are you talking about? Nigel was talking about “Bug 1: Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace”.

  221. @phil, you are correct latest stats I can find show around 10% or so for OS X. (can’t edit comments sadly)

  222. @Mike Swanson
    “This is incorrect; I’m not sure where you heard you had to root Android to run apps not on the Market, there’s even a checkbox built-in specifically to allow it (keeping it off prevents trojans from being loaded, I guess).”
    You are assuming I only mean sideloading apps, sideloading of apps on everything but ATT Android devices is a supported feature no doubt about it (I have a Captivate for work).
    For instance there are certain task manager apps that require rooting and things like Cyanogen require a complete ROM reflash. Everything has limitations, depends on what you want to live with.
    “I’ve heard that AT&T doesn’t allow this on their Android phones, I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is, just avoid AT&T as a carrier.”
    Hard to avoid one of the two biggest carriers in the US.

  223. For all the “OMG WE CAN’T WATCH OUR PRON” Comments. The ONLY thing that is not allowed on iOS is Flash. You can access any site you want, in fact Adobe is changing their media server to serve HTML5 to mobile devices.

  224. I find your opinions just that. How about some support to the claims you make? Instead of that you simply state whatever you like as fact with nothing to back it up.
    Your links lead to nothing more than other opinions about the man and not one single fact. There are facts of course, and they are hard to dispute. Just take a gander at where Apple was back in 1996 or so and today. Mr Jobs is indeed largely responsible for that turn around. And as far as open source goes- Lion is what $29??? That is way less than filling your car up at the gas pump.

  225. For instance how is Apple technology crippled? How is the tech a prison? What can’t I do with it?

  226. Slava, you don’t understand the point. The point isn’t that Flash is good, the point isn’t that there is an alternative technology.

  227. > Is Jobs still dead? It’s been more than three days, and I’ve been wondering.

    Still buried (on a Friday, even).

  228. @ slava
    And thats more due to flash being a POS than anything else.

  229. @Alex the Lesser
    > Either it’s a bug report (a technical document) or it’s literature. Either it’s meant to be taken seriously or it isn’t. Try submitting a satirical bug report at work sometime, see where it gets you.

    Yes, you’re right.
    There ought to be strict rules about what things can make fun of, and where, how and by whom this fun is to be made.
    Quota need to be established and monitorrng system be put in place so that not too much fun will be had, or be had by the wrong people.
    Software development is serious business.

    >What are you talking about? Nigel was talking about “Bug 1: Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace”.

    and I replied he should look beyond just the bug title and read the actual content.
    But I understand it if people have trouble digesting more than a tweetful of information at the time.

  230. Software development is serious business.

    Indeed. I don’t know if “fun quotas” are appropriate but jokes and that sort of thing should be kept to a minimum in historical documents like bug databases.

    At work there’s a standard mild admonition for putting things like “wtf?” in bug databases. These things are seen by customers and so the discourse used in them should be kept as strictly professional as possible.

  231. “At work” meaning where I work — I don’t know about your job :)

  232. > “At work” meaning where I work — I don’t know about your job :)

    I’m not in software development so bug databases don’t apply. I’m head of IT and sysadmin in a small (medium sized by Belgian standards) organization and the IT dept is not public-facing, so whe have room for humor, and I encourage it. It helps us to deal with stress and frustration, and I see humor as an exercise in creativity, so it’s beneficial to our work. It’s also, well, fun.

    So, while we don’t have a bug tracker, we do have a helpdesk ticketing system, a documentation and knowledge base wik that is parially visible to the rest of the organization, i, and an intranet where we post user manuals and general service announcements and all that, all of which have been (ab)used for pranks, jokes, April 1st projects, and general pun and wordplay in the naming of servers, projects, reports to management, etc.
    I’ve also been know to submit satirical support requests in one of my suppliers’ support ticketing system – the guys on the other side got the joke and had a laugh. The ‘fun’ ticket was about a recurring issue that they fixed soon afterwards.

    So, I don’t really have a problem with a half-joke/half serious “bug report” of the kind Mark Shuttleworth started up his Ubuntu bug tracker with. On the contrary. It makes me feel at home.

  233. esr Says:
    > No. Technological lock-in is self-limiting, for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere in great detail (briefly, investor pressure for increasing returns inevitably pushes the rent up to where it exceeds the transition cost out of the lock-in). Legislation, on the other hand, is not self-limiting and is easily perverted by regulatory capture. The “cure” is worse than the disease.

    Similarly in banking: Borrowing short and lending long benefits everyone, except when it does not, and when it does not, those who loaned short get screwed by the bankers. So obviously the bankers have to be regulated. Its obvious. Who can deny it?

    Well, after recent events, wherein a lot of people were screwed by the regulators, perhaps a lot of people can deny it.

  234. I’ve bee thinking about Steve Jobs and his illness.

    I have been wondering if they could have treated him with stem cells.

    I guess they could not, since I never read about any attempts being made in this area. I read articles about stem cells where they do all kinds of miraculous sounding things. Things like regrowing teeth and skin, and growing organs. Why could some of this not have fixed his cancer?

    Just wondering if the community out there had some insights on this.

  235. Someone with more medical knowledge could probably give you a better answer, but off the top of my head:

    1) Most (all?) of these stem cell treatments aren’t even through the human trials phase let alone a viable treatment path.
    2) Cancer’s problem is too much growth, not to little.

  236. @Darrencardinal: You’ve probably heard about stem cell transplants as a cancer treatment. They only work on blood cancers like the myeloma that I have. (I’ve had two transplants; they really turned me around.) When you hear of one of those drives, looking for a bone marrow donor, that’s what they are talking about. Unfortunately, the technique does not work on solid tumors.

  237. @Darrencardinal: Stem cell therapy works quite simple.
    You kill all cells of the tissue that generated the cancer. Including all the cancer cells. Then you inject stem cells that will migrate in the body to replace the lost tissue.

    So you see the problems:
    1) For almost all cancers, it is impossible to kill all cells of the cancer, with or without the originating tissue, without killing the patient

    2) For all but a very few tissues (i.e., blood cells), there are no stem cells that can regenerate the tissue

    3) In most cases, it is not a tissue that must be regenerated, but a complex organ, eg, lungs, liver, pancreas, gut. Organs that cannot be missed long enough to grow a new one in situ

    4) We cannot regenerate complex organs at all, eg, a new liver from stem cells.

  238. @Life as we know it
    Dennis Ritchie died

    Now here is a man who deserves an eulogy. Or a few dozen of them.

  239. “because those workers can quit any time they choose”

    me too i think so. they’re not human beings anyway, they’re chinese, you know.
    instead of those workers spoilt for choice, let’s look at important things, like lock-ins imposed on poor lemmings dishing out money for overpriced apple garbage.
    but we’ll do it another day, so i stopped reading right there.

  240. @winter of course he does, and he will.

    Why the implication that Steve didn’t? Respect is not a zero sum game.

  241. @nigel
    A eulogy (from ???????, eulogia, Classical Greek for “good words”) is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired.

    I for one have doubts whether only “good words” do justice to Steve.

  242. Darrencardinal Says:
    > I have been wondering if they could have treated him with stem cells.

    Unlikely. Eating your broccoli, wheatgrass smoothie and Vitamin K probably won’t help either.

    It would be nice if Steve’s death at least brought attention to the fact that quacks and snake oil salesmen are still conning people with their wares. But I haven’t heard a mention of it in all the fawning press coverage. Of course, perhaps it is better that it isn’t too widely broadcast lest we get buried under the usual “think about the children” calls for beefing up the incompetent, death dealing bureaucrats at the FDA.

    It is a great example, don’t you think, demonstrating the principle that just because you are smart in one area of life, does not prevent you from being spectacularly dumb in other areas.

  243. @winter I can certainly find praiseworthy things to say about Steve. Do you seriously believe that everyone that has had a eulogy had ONLY praiseworthy things to say?
    dmr seemed like a really nice guy in addition to being a legend but do you REALLY think that he never did anything wrong?

    By your criteria neither RMS nor ESR deserve a eulogy someday.

    By my criteria they do. Even if I think RMS is the biggest jerk in computing.

  244. The problem is other than those in the computer field, no one have ever heard of Dennis Ritchie. Steve Jobs sold cool things to the end users, and that’s how the world knows him. dmr is a whole ‘nother story. We truly lost a giant with his passing.

  245. Nigel, I don’t believe Winter said that only perfect people deserve eulogies. He said that only good words would not do justice to Steve.

    As it happens I disagree with him on the net content of Steve’s life, he brought a lot more good to the world than bad. I also disagree on the meaning of the word eulogy; regardless of its etymology, the plain fact is that a eulogy in the culture I come from is rarely a well balanced consideration of a person’s life, it is always a highlight of the positive parts of his life. Obituaries tend to be more balanced, though for sure, they also tend to emphasis the favorable over the unfavorable.

    In dying much of the negatives that Jobs brought will surely be washed away, and much of the good that he brought will remain. I say that as a mere observation, I certainly wish the man or his family no ill will. But rarely has a company been so dependent on one single man. Apple is not a normal company, in a sense, it is Steve Jobs’ ectoplasm. It will survive on the fumes of what he has done, and no doubt being the control freak he is he will have put lots of things in place to make things go his way even after his death. And of course there are lots of talented people at Apple. Nonetheless, without the wizard, the magic is gone. If you smite the shepherd the sheep will scatter.

    CEOs matter. The CEO of Apple matters a lot. Steve built the company to depend absolutely on him, and without him, within a few years, Apple will be IBM or Microsoft.

  246. SQPR, thanks for that link, it really made me laugh

    I posted a reply earlier, but apparently wordpress or esr’s blog now blacklists people from nonexistent countries.

  247. @jessica Some companies evolve after their founder leaves. Most devolve. Jobs actually lasted longer at the helm than many of his contemporaries.

    Whatever may happen to Apple, I don’t think any of the existing companies will replace it in terms of dominant mindshare. I expect Apple will have its up and down periods over the next couple decades.

  248. @Jessica Boxer

    “CEOs matter. The CEO of Apple matters a lot. Steve built the company to depend absolutely on him, and without him, within a few years, Apple will be IBM or Microsoft.”

    Actually Steve/Apple spent a lot of time on planning for a post-Steve Apple (Apple University):

    “Apple Inc. now has to get down to the business of surviving its founder.

    It’s something that Apple — and Steve Jobs himself — had been painstakingly planning for years….”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/06/business/la-fi-apple-university-20111006

  249. Steve Jobs apparently left enough notes to last Apple through another 4 years of product development. So Apple’s decline won’t happen for a while yet.

    Of course as I said, unless Steve was a total megalomaniac, he had been preparing for his demise for some time. Apple even produced unique impeccable products — and had fanboys — during the Sculley/Amelio era. It will keep going.

    The loss of Dennis is really something. That hit me hard.

  250. “Steve built the company to depend absolutely on him, and without him, within a few years, Apple will be IBM or Microsoft.”

    Steve did absolutely the opposite of this. Did he insist on making innumerable small decisions no other CEO would make? Yes, however, being an involved decision maker in not the same as making the entire organization utterly dependent upon you.

    Also, Steve was ousted in 1985. He did not return until 1997. A much weaker, smaller, poorly run company didn’t fade completely in 12 YEARS. Also, IBM is an odd example: they are more valuable than ever and recently surpassed Microsoft in market cap. So I would say you are simply wrong unless by “a few years” you mean decades.

  251. Tim F. Says:
    > A much weaker, smaller, poorly run company didn’t fade completely in 12 YEARS.

    Your zealotry is making you read between the lines. I didn’t say they’d go out of business, I said they’d become IBM or Microsoft.

    > Also, IBM is an odd example: they are more valuable than ever and recently

    Again, I didn’t say their stock would loose all its value. On the contrary, Tim Cook is undoubtedly a pretty capable MBA type Wall St. CEO. However, it is hard to imagine how a company that produces a few types of consumer electronics can really aspire to be the biggest company in America. Korea perhaps, not America (and Apple has nothing like the product range of Samsung.)

    No they won’t go out of business, it will take a few years to wind down, but eventually they will become boring and perfunctory. Which, for Apple fanboyz, is perhaps a fate worse than death.

  252. “Your zealotry is making you read between the lines. I didn’t say they’d go out of business, I said they’d become IBM or Microsoft.”

    I didn’t say anything about going out of business either.

    “However, it is hard to imagine how a company that produces a few types of consumer electronics can really aspire to be the biggest company in America.”

    Aspire to? They already are. Your inability to compehend that doesn’t really factor in to Apple’s “aspirations.”

    “…it will take a few years to wind down, but eventually they will become boring and perfunctory.”

    Will never happen. Even if Apple becomes a flailing and failing business, they will never be boring.

    “Which, for Apple fanboyz, is perhaps a fate worse than death.”

    Don’t project. It doesn’t smell good on you.

  253. @Tim F.

    It is entirely possible that Apple becomes boring…much like some periods of Disney when it lost its creative edge.

    There’s rumor that Ives and Forstall don’t get along and Ives and Mansfield avoid meetings with Forstall without Cook in the room.

    http://www.businessweek.com/printer/magazine/scott-forstall-the-sorcerers-apprentice-at-apple-10122011.html

    As Gruber states though, the only sources for articles like this will be folks that don’t like Forstall AND don’t work for Apple anymore. This kind of thing has to be taken with a grain of salt. But if Ives leaves because Jobs is gone and Forstall is too annoying that’s going to be a large blow to Apple. Vice versa too.

    I don’t see this happening until Cook is gone though. So long as Apple has Ives to drive design and Forstall to drive iOS they’ll be fine. That should be good for at least the 2-4 years where esr and others here predict when Apple’s massive downfall will occur.

    Heck, I bet Android is at 50% US smartphone market share as we speak so the imminent doom of Apple is already occurring. LOL.

    But the big change will be IMHO that the Next Big Thing that many folks expected from Apple is no longer a sure thing.

  254. Jeff Read writes: “Steve Jobs apparently left enough notes to last Apple through another 4 years of product development. So Apple’s decline won’t happen for a while yet.”

    Tim F. writes: “Steve did absolutely the opposite of this. Did he insist on making innumerable small decisions no other CEO would make? Yes, however, being an involved decision maker in not the same as making the entire organization utterly dependent upon you.”

    Its my opinion that both of you don’t understand what Steve Jobs’ strength was. If Jobs truly was the force behind Apple’s creativity, he did not do it by “leaving notes” nor really by being an “involved decision maker” per se. If he was himself the force, he did it by attacking mediocrity and the corporate forces that strengthen mediocrity. And that’s not something you can do from the grave with “notes”.

    If Steve Jobs was the reason being the best of Apple’s work, we’ll see the effects of his absence – dating from when he really ceased being involved whatever number of months ago that was, probably about 18 months to 24 months out. And if he was that force, then Apple will emulate so many other corporations in the way that they kill innovation – through the forces of mediocrity in existing entrenched interest.

  255. SPQR Says:
    > Its my opinion that both of you don’t understand what Steve Jobs’ strength was. … he did it by attacking mediocrity…

    That’s only part of it, though I think that is true. However, there is something else, it is leadership, and it is unity of purpose, encapsulated in one person. Because of who Steve was, Apple could be like a small company, while still being big. The reasons for this I think are complex, but a lot of them have to do with the extremeness of who Steve Jobs was.

    Often in discussion of economics we hear about the economies of scale, the advantages of being big. However, what we rarely hear about are the advantages of being small, and the disadvantages of being big. All of you who have worked in a big company know what they are. Meetings, communication trauma, empire building, unresponsive, slow CYA decision making, long lead times, complex budgetary processes, disconnection between an individual’s work and the company’s goals, dispersed focus and so forth.

    Big companies don’t innovate very much because they lack these economies of the small. That is why big companies buy small companies, or one of the reasons anyway.

    Steve Jobs had an amazing ability to transcend these things. But he did so by being Steve. It was the Steveness of who he was that allowed Apple to have the advantages of being small, and the advantages of being big. It was a combination of a deep respect, an overwhelming personality, a reality distortion field, or some other spell he cast. It is also about being part of something special, and Steve is what made is special.

    Cook, Ives, Forstall: talented all, no doubt, but none of them are Steve Jobs.

    Apple is big, and it is destined for the diseases of big companies. Plan or no plan, when the wizard is gone, so is the magic.

  256. Marco: Good to see. I’d heard talk about Wayland and the like; good to see someone trying to use it.

    The costs of a switch will be huge, and I’m glad someone big group is at least contemplating trying it. (I also don’t have the technical background with Wayland and the like to even speculate about whether it’s a really good idea or just better-than-X, but it’s almost certainly better-than-X.)

    Someone has to pay switchover costs or the entire non-OSX Unix world will be stuck using X11 forever.

    (Agreed, definitely, that abandoning X is necessary but not sufficient, which brings me to…)

    Jeff Read: Double Agreed, more or less.

    I’m not actually wedded, myself, to the “Unix Mantra”, I was just speaking in Unix Terms for ESR, and about the problems of “OSS designers”, who are themselves almost necessarily wedded to the Unix Mantra.

    I’m in agreement with your position re. standards. The “fascist” approach works for making useful interfaces. (I suspect, in fact, that it’s the only approach that can work, because consistency is paramount, and there’s no way to enforce it that won’t be called “fascist”…)

    One UI “look”. One set of (at least primary, non-optional, universally present) libraries/APIs. Someone who’s an actual UX expert (ideally an entire team of them) designing your UI standards.

    That’s what I think the OSS Desktop Systems as a group lack, compared to OSX, and X itself is only a part of that. That’s what I meant with my words about “some one” in charge of UX.

    (And as others have said, “pretty” is not the same as “good”. The Gnome and KDE guys have managed “pretty” well enough over the last 15 years, once they stopped copying Windows 95 – but “pretty”, while necessary for a modern good UI, is not remotely sufficient.)

    I look forward to ESR’s semi-promised post about What’s Wrong With OSS GUIs.

    Even if I don’t agree with it, it’s guaranteed to be interesting.

  257. Jessica, granted quick surgery seems more rational, but afaik it was his personal decision and not influenced by “quacks”, based on his long-standing vegan philosophy. Apparently we do not know all the medical facts of his case.

    That Apple University looks like a prime candidate for your astute point that large organizations become mired in grand inefficiencies.

    Esr, imo the socioeconomic paradigm cause is a more rational area of study, than blaming the effect where Jobs and Apple are meeting the demand for luxury (i.e. idols). Other luxury brands are very profitable.

    UI can’t be designed and innovated effectively by committee, but the infrastructure modules that power the UI can be, if they are sufficiently orthogonal to any desired UI. Then I think we can extrapolate this statement to general innovation in s/w. Note that Android is being innovated by a Google team, not a public committee.

  258. Shelby Says:
    >Jessica, granted quick surgery seems more rational, but afaik it was his personal decision and not influenced by “quacks”,

    That doesn’t make it any less dumb. In fact, it might arguably make it more dumb. My point was not that his decision was wrong (though it almost certainly was), it was more that the world could have had a great teachable moment. But we don’t say mean things about dead people.

    > based on his long-standing vegan philosophy.

    Jobs was not a vegan, he was a pescatarian, and from what I hear, he was pretty obnoxious about it.

    > Apparently we do not know all the medical facts of his case.

    That is true.

  259. That Apple University looks like a prime candidate for your astute point that large organizations become mired in grand inefficiencies.

    Pixar University has demonstrated that when SJ wanted to set up a training program, he got a world-class training program. I would expect the training at Apple University to be rather more valuable than a typical MBA.

  260. Some Guy Says:
    > Pixar University has demonstrated that when SJ wanted to set up a training program

    I don’t know much about Pixar under Disney, however, the way I read the history, Pixar was a success because of one man, and it wasn’t SJ, it was John Lasseter. For sure without Steve’s money, it would have folded, but in terms of creating the business, it was all Lasseter. In many ways the two men are strangely parallel. The companies of Apple and Pixar were built around their genius, and it was their obsessive involvement top to bottom, their passionate desire not to settle for second best, and the amazing way they got almost cult like loyalty from their staff that made these companies what they were. Yet despite their similarities, they were as about as different as two men could be.

    Personally, I think there is a fascinating book in there, comparing their remarkable similarities and differences.

    John Alan Lasseter

  261. Thank you ESR – excellent article worth referencing anytime the Jobs legacy is discussed. But I look at it this way: The BSD license – and even GPL to a limited extent – will always allow someone to stand on the shoulders of real giants and pretend to be a giant themselves. But we’ll know better.

  262. Pixar was a success because of one man,

    Jessica, you have NO idea what you’re talking about, and Lasseter would be the first one to tell you that.

  263. @esr> I met Steve Jobs once in 1999 when I was the president of the Open Source Initiative, and got caught up in one of his manipulations in a way that caused a brief controversy but (thankfully) did the organization no lasting harm.

    Do you perhaps mean Apple’s March 1999 announcement of the open OS X, (dubbed Darwin), when you (Eric Raymond) appeared on stage with Steve Jobs and endorsed Apple’s actions?

    Subsequently Bruce Perens, Wichert Akkerman, and Ian Jackson analyzed the Apple APSL and pointed out its deviations from the open source model. (This document also refers in passing to IBM’s Jikes license.) The critique questioned a number of points in the APSL, including

    – Apple’s remedies for patent challenges
    – Apple’s relabeling of unchanged code acquired from the BSD distribution
    – Apple’s requirement that adaptors of its technology refer to a specific URL on Apple’s Web site

    and you then challenged them?

    http://www.opensource.org/pressreleases/osi-clarifies-APSL.php
    http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=1999-03-19-004-05-NW-LF
    http://freshmeat.net/articles/bruce-perens-replies-to-esrs-letter

    Oh look, a cute pull quote: http://www.apple.com/publicsource/old_index.html


    “Apple has a proud tradition of innovating in ways that shake up the computer industry. They’ve done it again.”
    —Eric Raymond
    President, The Open Source Initiative

  264. http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/take-my-job-please.html

    It’s a great job, too. You get to fly all over the U.S. and the world and stay in luxury hotels a lot. You’re quoted as an authority in the national press. Fortune 500 executives listen carefully when you talk. Gray eminences in the Pentagon ask you to speak at national-security workshops. You meet all kinds of interesting and powerful people (why, in just the last two weeks I’ve had face time with Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, John Sculley, Mitch Kapor, Esther Dyson, and the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury In Charge Of Russia). You get asked to write columns in national magazines. You’re treated like visiting royalty by Linux user groups. You get to have your bio in Wired (next month). You get to make history. You even get groupies (well, OK, this has only happened once. But she was fine.)

  265. Grace is not a common quality. You demonstrate that rather ably. Allowing that you clearly never liked the man, I guess your memoriam is as good as you could manage. You dislike what he created and how he went about creating it; you dislike the man. And yet you feel a need to comment on his death with facile arguments that could be derived from some communist manifesto and an astonishing lack of consideration for a man who lost his battle against cancer.

    You couldn’t set aside your ideas about the man, or what he created, from the man. I don’t follow your witterings; did you denigrate him in life as you do on his death? Or do you restrict yourself to criticizing the man from the distance of his death?

    Richard Stallman changed the world. And, as far as I can tell, became very bitter because the world didn’t change enough to suit him. Steve Jobs, as far as I can tell, didn’t bother with such trivialities – he changed the world. He got on with the job of realizing his goals and ambitions. If you think that open source was anything but a tool, you’ve misread the man, I’d hazard. So what if you feel a bit used and abused? If Richard Stallman wants to be a cranky old codger? You’re alive and Steve Jobs isn’t. You can whine, as you do, and he can’t.

    Are you without fault? Are you the perfect boss? The man who is willing to seek a perfection, an aesthetic? Have you never nitpicked because something wasn’t just so? Have you ever complained about how the dishes are washed? Steve Jobs had a vision; he was lucky enough to have some extraordinary skills. So what if he was a perfectionist? The world could do with a few more perfectionists. So what if you didn’t like his management style? Ever read of a biography of a great artist that mentioned “oh, he was so reasonable!”? No, neither have I. Steve Jobs existed in a different plane; he had a vision. You have an idea. (See? Bitchy is a bitch, ain’t it?) You write as if you want Mr Jobs to be a coder, not an artist. His canvas is unconventional; but it’s still a canvas. Picasso changed the way we look at things; Steve Jobs changed much more than that.

    Your hope is that no one is as competent as Mr Jobs? Nice. It must be so wonderful to be so damned positive. You must also hope there are no more Shakespeare’s, van Gogh’s, Picasso’s, Ginsberg’s. Your merely wishing for mediocrity; it’s a wish I hope I never see fulfilled. At best, you’re hoping for someone who has vision, but not too much – something manageable, approvable. Like I said: mediocrity. Your entire argument (in an alleged obituary!) is that Steve Jobs was good – and you wish he weren’t as good, as visionary and dedicated to that as he was. You want a visionary to be reasonable – while applauding the mean, apathetic, statements of another clearly unreasonable man, of whom I’ll say “is not as visionary”.

    Ghouls proclaim the virtue of the man dead; personally, I’ll proclaim the virtues of the man and regret his passing. Have some grace about the man; he changed the world. Be graceful on the man’s death; he died of cancer, battling it I have no doubt; it’s a hideous, painful, death. Being graceful about it costs you nothing and others might be kinder with their thoughts of you. After all – the man is dead. What does it cost you to be graceful about it?

    Carolyn Ann

  266. Never having claimed perfection, I can only apologize for a few grammatical errors in my pointed criticism of you. A couple of words were deleted by accident, and an apostrophe and “e” were missed by one of Mr Jobs’ systems. (A “you’re”, in case you’re wondering… :-) )

  267. Bruce Perens, Wichert Akkerman, and Ian Jackson

    I forget: were they the People’s Front of Judea, or the Judean People’s Front?

    The backbiting and bitching I’ve seen amongst various factions of people who don’t want to pay for software always reminds me of the old saying sometimes attributed to Henry Kissinger about why academic politics are so vicious.

  268. @ Some Guy
    > ” … people who don’t want to pay for software …”

    this symptom of ignorance pretty much invalidates everything you say, have said or might say about free/open source software or anything/anyone connected to it.

  269. >this symptom of ignorance

    Get over yourself. I know way too many of those people personally.

  270. This is also an appropriate time to reflect on the passing (and far more valuable legacy) of Dennis Ritchie.

  271. Carolyn Ann Says:
    > I guess your memoriam is as good as you could manage. You dislike what he created and how he went about creating it; you dislike the man. And yet you feel a need to comment on his death with facile arguments that could be derived from some communist manifesto and an astonishing lack of consideration for a man who lost his battle against cancer.

    Carolyn Ann, you need to reread his post. Your understanding Eric’s claims is just plain wrong. Eric commented on Jobs’ death because there was a groundswell of demand from others for him to do so; read some of the comments on previous threads to see this. He was being accused of being insensitive for NOT commenting.

    And his beef, (as also mine) is not with the quality of Jobs’ products. For the most part they were pretty good, and certainly influential, though I think their quality is greatly overestimated. No, the problem is that he wanted to control your computer far more completely than any previous computer company ever did. He didn’t want you to install applications he didn’t approve of. He didn’t want you to configure it the way you wanted it, and so forth. And secondly, he was a patent troll, using the evils of the software patent system to suppress competition, and to prevent customers from having any other choice than his big brother controlled computer environment.

    As I said before: sure he wanted to control your stuff, sure he was a patent troll, but at least the trains ran on time.

  272. Some Guy Says:
    >… Lasseter would be the first one to tell you that.

    Indeed, and that is one of the ways that Lasseter is very different from Steve Jobs.

  273. > I forget: were they the People’s Front of Judea, or the Judean People’s Front?

    Doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Eric was riding tall in the saddle prior to the debacle, and then he tripped over his own drive for fame and power.

    When the dust settled, OSI had approved the APSL. The damage was done, OSI was tarnished, and Eric had shit in the punchbowl.

    It’s just too damn bad that Eric blames Steve Jobs, and not himself.

  274. ‘When the dust settled, OSI had approved the APSL. The damage was done, OSI was tarnished, and Eric had shit in the punchbowl.’

    I don’t see what the problem is. Its pretty obvious that Darwin and Webkit is open source.

  275. > OSI was tarnished, and Eric had shit in the punchbowl.

    More like, Eric had shown that it was possible for open source advocates to be reasonable on occasion, while Perens, Stallman, and the rest of the People’s Front had shown the world that no good deed would go unpunished. It was positively absurd to watch them bitching about how Apple didn’t give away their code in a manner meeting the approval of the self-appointed guardians of purity.

  276. > that is one of the ways that Lasseter is very different from Steve Jobs.

    Yeah, Steve won’t give anyone else credit, that’s why he didn’t have everybody on the Mac team sign the case, and why we never heard about Andy Hertzfeld, Burrel Smith, Bill Atkinson, Chris Esponiza, Doug Kapps, Susan Kare, Bud Tribble, and the rest of them in Apple PR materials that were in every Mac dealer at the launch. Also, why he never invited engineers on the stage to demo the products they worked on… Oh, wait! He did all those things.

    Once again, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  277. Hi, Jessica! I don’t follow Eric’s blog; I’ve known of its existence, obviously [..?] , for some time. My comment was restricted, or at least I tried to keep it to, criticizing Eric’s “eulogy”. The man died of cancer, at a far too young an age. During his life he influenced and changed the way technology is perceived and used.

    My specific complaint is that Eric Raymond, as a prominent commentator, and as someone who has helped change the world, could have been a lot more gracious. Heck – he could have been gracious; there’s not a gracious note in his whole post. Instead he defends an inappropriate comment from Richard Stallman and whines about what are really ideological disagreements. In short, you don’t have to like someone to be gracious about them after their dead. As I said, it costs nothing. As it is, Mr Raymond lost some respect in iterating ideology and defending the inappropriate. What Mr Stallman said was inappropriate; defending his right to say it is one thing – but defending its sentiment is equally inappropriate.

    As for bowing to pressure to speak about Mr Jobs’ death, then it would have been more than adequate to mark his passing and that Mr Raymond briefly knew the man. He could have mentioned that they didn’t get along, or that he emerged from the experience a trifle wiser. But he decided to be ungracious and defensive. And I thought that not worthy of Eric Raymond. So I said so.

  278. @Carolyn Ann, dishonesty is disgraceful. It appears the honest OSS reaction to Steve Jobs’ death, is to hope his model won’t persist. I agree that hope and politics are un-liberated (i.e. not self-determined) positions.

    Imo, technology lays out the game theory rules, and politics follows. Political movements are the effect, not the cause. OSS happened because of a lot of hard work over decades, and afaik the Cathedral & Bazaar movement document followed. So I see Jobs’ success as an lingering technological challenge to OSS, which would should be dealt with hard work on technology and thus without words. The subsequent blog about the spaghetti nature of dependencies in software affirms my hypothesis that the fundamental problem is our computer languages do not enforce modularity.

    I have never known a perfect person, business model, or ideology.

    Thus, I personally would rather talk about work we can do, than to live in the past or get mired in words.

  279. How ‘open source’ and do people generally need their computers to be? I get computer scientists may want to entirely build as much of their machines as possible for themselves in both terms of soft and hardware but what are the true implications of Apples marginal home computing market share? And are the terms ‘Open source’ and ‘Freedom’ just hyperbole from a populist sense?

  280. Hi, Shelby,

    I would never say Mr Raymond was dishonest, just lacking in grace. In his discouraging eulogy, Mr Raymond came across as a one-note activist; which I thought unfair and, frankly, am now regretting mentioning.

    I don’t agree with your political statement, but I’m not sure this is the venue I want to discuss it in. (That being said… Here goes!)

    Eric Raymond may hope that Steve Jobs’ ideas perish, but that’s akin to hoping the sun won’t rise. You can’t un-invent something. These ecosystems, such as Facebook and Apple’s, will change in response to both consumer pressure, diplomacy (to and from FB) and legislation. But they will persist – because they are based on basic ideas about people.

    It has never been about tools – it’s always been about people.

    That and being rewarded for intellectual effort.

  281. I think it mistaken to suggest that Jobs imposed some sort of tyranny. If you don’t like his products, don’t buy em. How hard is that?

    I also think that he was entirely within his rights to insist on control, in much the same way that, say, the manufacturer of Rolex watches or whatnot insist on doing things in a certain way. No-one buys this stuff at gunpoint. I find the way in which pro-market people get all upset at an entrepreneur’s desire to control his or her product design to be odd, to say the least. Again: no-one is forced to buy this material at gunpoint, so I just don’t get this trope about how Jobs was some sort of menace to liberty.

    At least Jobs did not get bailouts from Washington.

  282. @johnathan It’s not hard. It’s just that FOSS has always positioned itself against proprietary software. Therefore any successes for proprietary software is a failure for FOSS. Proprietary software is ebil and folks that promote proprietary software are equally ebil. Their passing is welcome.

  283. > More like, Eric had shown that it was possible for open source advocates to be reasonable on occasion, while Perens, Stallman, and the rest of the People’s Front had shown the world that no good deed would go unpunished. It was positively absurd to watch them bitching about how Apple didn’t give away their code in a manner meeting the approval of the self-appointed guardians of purity.

    Agreed, but now Eric is blaming Jobs, not Perens & Co.

    The real problem is that Eric self-appointed himself as leader, and those he presumed to lead revolted over the Apple deal.

    It didn’t help that “Suprised by wealth” still had metaphoric wet ink.

    Like rms, Eric fancies himself a politician.

  284. Johnathan Pearce Says:
    > I also think that he was entirely within his rights to insist on control,

    I would never question Apple’s right to do so; I’m not saying it shouldn’t be allowed, I’m saying it is a bad thing, and a dangerous seduction. So are Onion Rings and dipping sauce from Red Robin restaurant. It tastes good the first time, but the long term consequences are not so great. And the future of software development is of rather more import than the fit of my wardrobe. Tasty temptations? For sure. Resist one’s baser instincts? If you are wise; But banned by the government? I don’t think so.

    As ever, the perspicacious Jeff Atwood hits the nail on the head:

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/10/serving-at-the-pleasure-of-the-king.html

    For me as a person involved in Windows programming, I find immense irony to hear all the Apple supporters defending behavior in Cupertino that would have given them asthma attacks had the source been Redmond, though I am sure Johnathan was not one of these Januses. Nonetheless, let all Apple-ites who snickered at the Borg Bill Gates on slashdot, now hang their heads in shame. Take a look in the mirror — resistance was futile, you are now Locutus.

  285. Jessica,

    To “Apple-ites”, Microsoft’s crime was not so much being controlling as being tasteless and blatantly thieving and controlling for controlling’s sake. In particular, Windows is an ugly, wretched knockoff of Mac OS. Apple fans are still bitter about the fact that Microsoft won with technology stolen from Apple, that they won the copyright case notwithstanding. That copyright case is the equivalent of the ruling that said only the lyrics and melody of a song are copyrightable; to a jazz or funk musician, the letter of the law is no matter, if you steal a song’s “groove” you are still a thief.

    By contrast, Apple licensed technology from Xerox, so Bill Gates’s little “rich neighbor” speech in Pirates of Silicon Valley is wrong on its face.

    Also, a lot of anti-Microsoft sentiment came from butthurt companies (Netscape, Sun, Apple before Jobs’s return) who couldn’t compete.

  286. Jeff, the Apple-ites had many complaints about M$. The ones you list are certainly things they complained about, and are strangely being reprised now, with claims that Samsung is ripping off Apple’s look and feel. To be honest, I don’t care. Apple doesn’t own it, it is the old intellectual property debate, and it is mostly bogus. I think it is great that MS made Windows and used stuff to make it easier. I suppose you might complain they didn’t rip off more to make it better. Do you really think Apple would have thrown in the towel and stopped trying if they did? The purpose of copyright and patents in the US constitution is to promote the sciences and useful arts, not to secure profits for inventors.

    Perhaps, for example, you think that only Microsoft should be allowed to produce Ajax web sites, after all, they invented the core protocol for Ajax postsbacks for OWA.

    Nonetheless, that is entirely peripheral. The plain fact is that the Borg analogy was generously applied to Microsofties, and it is profoundly ironic that those same complainants are now hooking up their personal electronic extension devices to the central Borg nexus in Cupertino. If Apple brings out a camera that fits over your eye and bluetooths it to your iPhone, the circle of irony will be complete.

  287. Bottom line is it is what we ship, and the volume of users, not what we talk about. Kudos to Apple. Competition fires me up. Whining is pitiful.

    The lockin model is a serious problem. My articulate non-technical mother said several years ago “upgrade is an oxymoron”. Last night she related her experience of being locked in to her tax preparation s/w because it can import the prior years’ data, and then how they had removed the export to PDF feature in this year’s version, and she was on a deadline and pulling her hair out. She finally discovered she could get back the PDF feature for a $5.99 payment, but this was after a lot of digging and lost time.

    I am fairly well convinced that the only way we are going to sell radical change beyond where we are with OSS, is a rethink of the computer language paradigms we use. As readers here know, that is what I am working on.

  288. If Gates was the Borg king, what was Jobs?

    I think Jobs was more like Q.

    He snaps his fingers and makes magical products come to life.

  289. Darrencardinal Says:
    > I think Jobs was more like Q.

    Wasn’t Q petulant, sophomoric, and prone to forcing people to do things they didn’t want to do? Wasn’t he plugged into the Q Continuum that tried to control the whole universe?

    Perhaps you’re right. :-)

  290. And much like Q, Steve Jobs basically let the rest of the industry exist because they amused him. :)

  291. Jeff Read writes: “pple fans are still bitter about the fact that Microsoft won with technology stolen from Apple, that they won the copyright case notwithstanding. That copyright case is the equivalent of the ruling that said only the lyrics and melody of a song are copyrightable; to a jazz or funk musician, the letter of the law is no matter, if you steal a song’s “groove” you are still a thief.”

    A poor metaphor. More like it was the equivalent of someone claiming that they copyrighted a group of chords, so no one could use those chords again.

  292. Shelby Says:
    >I am fairly well convinced that the only way we are going to sell radical change beyond where we are with OSS, is a rethink of the computer language paradigms we use.

    To the person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  293. Jeff Read Says:
    >Apple fans are still bitter about the fact that Microsoft won with technology stolen from Apple,

    In the latest news Samsung is expending great energy to design around the Patent Troll of Cupertino’s stable of “blindingly obvious things we filed first.”

    How nice that they are expending all that energy to dodge legal vanities rather than spending that same energy on creating new and useful products and software for us all to use. It is so very easy to ignore opportunity costs.

  294. @Jessica Boxer: good point. Of course improvement comes from many directions and of course I love diversity. Afaik, one of the foundation principles of the Unix philosophy is orthogonality of tools, e.g. redirecting the I/O of shell commands. I think we need to extend that into the APIs at the language level, which afaics requires a typed, declarative paradigm. There are untyped paradigms, such as SOAP, DCOM, REST, etc.. but afaics they leak, because of the untyped denotational semantics they don’t model. Any paradigm which doesn’t model all of the semantics, will of course leak, and thus due to Turing completeness (infinite possible semantics), there is no paradigm that won’t leak. I think we can get more degrees-of-fitness to semantics (i.e. model more semantics with for example category theory models of generality), with what I am proposing.

  295. Apparently Jobs’ did take the advice of a quack, and by implication didn’t adhere to any rational deadline for tumor shrinkage:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Jobs-questioned-authority-all-apf-1873950574.html

    The book delves into Jobs’ decision to delay surgery for nine months after learning in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine tumor — a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable.

    Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He also was influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, the book says, before finally having surgery in July 2004.

    Isaacson, quoting Jobs, writes in the book: “`I really didn’t want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other things would work,’ he told me years later with a hint of regret.”

  296. Jobs was a guy more like a salesman with an artistic talent.
    he was capable to use ideas from outside without paying for them,implement these ideas in a product very good-looking (artistic talent) and lock very effectively the thing and the use of the thing so to earn a lot of money.Chapeau!

  297. Simply put, Steve Jobs was a nasty piece of work. In 1994, he boasted that “Good artists copy. Great artists steal”. And then, in 2011, he devoted his life to this vile pettiness:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15400984

    “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

    I hope that were I to become terminally ill, I would rage against the dying of the light in a less twattish way.

  298. NM,

    The difference between Steve Jobs and many other industry players is that he will steal legitimately, i.e., buy or license an idea that he will then use in a great product. That’s true of the GUI innovations at Xerox, as well as things like multitouch.

    Other vendors have a pernicious tendency to outright rip off Apple’s technology and trade dress. Samsung more blatantly than most.

  299. he will steal legitimately

    er, he would

    I haven’t 100% processed and accepted the reality of his mortality yet…

  300. Steve fully understood the context of the Picasso quote which was a “stolen” quote from T.S. Eliot. Reading the original T.S. Eliot quote may give you better context:

    “One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.”

    http://brianericford.tumblr.com/post/11735684801/great-artists

  301. Pingback: ESR Defends RMS, Google the Musical & MS Plays Bad « FOSS Force

  302. Emulation is the highest form of flattery.

    Ideas can’t be owned. Source code bases can be owned, not as static copyrights, but because they need to be maintained, and typically the creators are best equipped to do so.

    There is no need to be so selfish, as humans can produce far in excess of their consumption. It is our use of collectivism and usury that causes misallocation of our massive capacity for overproduction.

    If someone has a good idea, they should want to see it proliferate as freely as possible, so they can make their contribution on humanity. There really isn’t any problem with having enough food and basic necessities. All this selfishness is only going to end up making everyone slaves to fascism.

  303. Tim F. Says:
    >Steve fully understood the context of the Picasso quote which was a “stolen” quote from T.S. Eliot. Reading the original T.S. Eliot quote may give you better context:

    This is a curious argument indeed. Apparently you think that Steve did indeed steal other peoples’ ideas, but that was OK, because he made them better. One wonders if you would feel the same if I stole your car, but gave it a kick ass paint job. I’m afraid your explanation makes no sense to someone without a “Steve is awesome”ax to grind.

    As for me, I think the idea that an idea can be owned it crazy on its face. Steve’s desire to go nuclear on Android seems to ignore the fact that way more than half of what is in the iPhone had been in the smartphones that preceded it. That is not to deny that it was innovative, on the contrary. But to claim that Steve can steal ideas, but Google can’t is a massive cognitive dissonance, notwithstanding the echoes of the Reality Distortion Field that live on after his passing.

    It is also worth noting that the very ideas that you put forward are at the core of my utilitarian rejection of the patents system he so loved. Specifically, if ideas are owned, it is really hard to improve on them, because you have to get permission from the people you want to compete against. Do we really want a 14 year innovation cycle?

  304. @Jessica Boxer No, I guess you don’t get it. The quote in context means to understand what is good in the things before, around, and ahead of you, integrate them into your own thinking and style and execute what is great, whereas, if you are not great, if you are not truly understanding what is great around you, what you produce will seem like a pale imitation, a poorly executed copy. Listen to what Steve says about Microsoft on 60 minutes through the Isaacson interviews: Jobs is more pissed off that they copied the Mac OS BADLY, then he is that they “copied” it — it’s not a statement that can remotely be analogized with Grand Theft Auto.

    Do you really think you claim that innovations are on a cycle bound by patent law? I don’t see it.

  305. @Tim F, are you saying that all those inferior spec Android phones supplanting dumb phones, where an iPhone is not a financially viable choice, is not good for humanity and does not add wealth?

    I argue that it brings the users to a higher level of technology NOW and then they will upgrade to a better Android in a couple of years. They are empowered in the meantime, more than if they were stuck with a dumb phone.

  306. “where an iPhone is not a financially viable choice, is not good for humanity and does not add wealth?”

    When did I ever say or suggest this? Are you in the wrong blog entry? My thinking doesn’t mandate that Android is evil. I’m not angered by bottom-up improvements. Good. My thinking says that of those who can afford Apple products, there is a market of people who will choose them over all else. That is all. Again, my thinking doesn’t require all or nothing. I don’t care if 90% of the world doesn’t own Apple products.

    “I argue that it brings the users to a higher level of technology NOW and then they will upgrade to a better Android in a couple of years.”

    I think that when it’s economically feasible they may or may not choose an Apple product. If it is not economically feasible, it is an unprofitable and not-strategic market to target. Even if it is good for humanity.

    Shelby, can you not blend topics: this post is about Steve Jobs. Nothing you said is relevant to this discussion.

  307. Tim F. Says:
    > No, I guess you don’t get it.

    I got it just fine. Before you can steal other people’s ideas you have to be sufficiently worthy. Before you can steal other people’s ideas you have to be profound. Before you can steal other people’s ideas you have to be pure hearted. Before you steal other people’s ideas, you have to be cool, you have to have class, you have to *get it*.

    you might be right. Perhaps declasse Android and Windows are not worthy of Steve Jobs’ profundity. But it is entirely irrelevant. Either it is stealing or it is not, regardless of whether the thief is Thomas Crown or Bill Sykes. If it is not stealing, and frankly it is ridiculous to think that someone can own an idea, then in a free society, we have the right to be tasteless. Check out MTV, or a Modern Art exhibit, or 99% of web sites if you doubt that.

    Regardless, in many respects Android did greatly improve on certain aspects of the iPhone. The most obvious way being that they provided a great phone system that did not require you to plug into the Borg Nexus of Cupertino. Apparently though that is not adequately improved for you or Steve.

    > Do you really think you claim that innovations are on a cycle bound by patent law? I don’t see it.

    No, but that is because the patent system is run by the government, and is consequently breathtakingly inefficient. Fear not, the patent troll is introducing some privatization to the system and making its enforcement a little bit more efficient. As it stands today, the patent system is capriciously evil, rather than systematically evil.

  308. @Jessica Boxer

    “No, but that is because the patent system …”

    It’s always disappointing hearing people spew nonsense that they themselves don’t believe just for the hell of sounding ideological.

  309. # Tim F. Says:
    > It’s always disappointing hearing people spew nonsense that they themselves don’t believe just for the hell of sounding ideological.

    It is equally disappointing to hear responses from people incapable unwilling to think in a different frame. My original point was that were you to take the ideas you advocated — namely that ideas are property — and actually apply them, then the consequences would be horrible. The fact that your ideas when only poorly implemented are still so damaging does not advocate for your idea, it mere allows us to breathe a sigh of relief that you are not in charge.

    If you truly believe that ideas should indeed be property, enforced the same way your car or your money is protected, then I must assume you are a big fan of patent trolls. After all, they are simply a more efficient mechanism to enforce what you believe is right.

    It is also equally disappointing when you skip the meat of the discussion to complain that the ketchup isn’t up to snuff. Ideas? Property or not? Why is the stylish thief less culpable than the tacky thief? Right now Samsung are trying to give us options beyond the iPad; a new platform for new ideas built in a world without the need to hook up to the Borg Nexus at Cupertino. Apple wants to stop that. Stop the power of competition. Stop us from being free to use our devices the way we want to. Why exactly is that a good thing? Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple allowed us to “think different”?

  310. @Jessica Boxer

    Much of your posts are filled with extremist falsities (“If you truly believe that ideas should indeed be property, enforced the same way your car or your money is protected” — no one who believes that legal protections like patents are the same as a car) that I doubt you can even believe (“…it mere allows us to breathe a sigh of relief that you are not in charge” — oh yeah, you’re not worried because I’m not “in charge” even though the real people “in charge” have more extreme values antithetical to your ideology than me! Really?). It doesn’t do you any good. Asking me a question, and then admitting you can’t even believe the premise, makes it difficult to find it worthwhile to discourse with you.

  311. Tim F. Says:
    > Much of your posts are filled with extremist falsities …

    Jessica’s first law of Internet debate: “When you can’t win on the merits, try picking at a minor point to change the subject from the main substance.”

    Jessica’s second law of Internet debate: “If you still can’t win on the merits, go ad hominen.”

    What was the point of the discussion exactly? Oh yeah, Steve objects to stealing ideas, except when you do it with style. Steve does everything with style. Google does nothing with style. Therefore it is OK for Steve to steal ideas, and it is not OK for Google to do the same.

    If your mind can pretzel its way around that Tim, then I think you have been assimilated into the Borg collective.

  312. “It is equally disappointing to hear responses from people incapable unwilling to think in a different frame.”

    Untrue. Ad hominem.

    “My original point was that were you to take the ideas you advocated — namely that ideas are property — and actually apply them, then the consequences would be horrible.”

    Distortion of my ideas. Simplification of my ideas. In fact, my “ideas” are the REALITY now, no need to “apply” them.

    “The fact that your ideas when only poorly implemented are still so damaging does not advocate for your idea, it mere allows us to breathe a sigh of relief that you are not in charge.”

    Ad hominem.

    “If you truly believe that ideas should indeed be property, enforced the same way your car or your money is protected, then I must assume you are a big fan of patent trolls.”

    Complete, utter extremist distortion of my ideas. Ad hominem.

    “It is also equally disappointing when you skip the meat of the discussion to complain that the ketchup isn’t up to snuff.”

    Huh?

    “Ideas? Property or not?”

    Extremist distortion.

    “Why is the stylish thief less culpable than the tacky thief?”

    Distortion. Ad hominem.

    “Right now Samsung are trying to give us options beyond the iPad; a new platform for new ideas built in a world without the need to hook up to the Borg Nexus at Cupertino.”

    I have no problem with that. Ad hominem.

    “Apple wants to stop that. Stop the power of competition.”

    Distortion. Extremist. Apple wants to stop use of their patents. They aren’t seeking to stop all competition: there are innumerable avenues to competition. Using another’s IP is one avenue foresclosed to them.

    “Stop us from being free to use our devices the way we want to. Why exactly is that a good thing?”

    Extremist. Distortion. Most people could care less. Most people do not feel “unfree.” Samsung not being able to use Apple patents doesn’t make the entire world “unfree.”

    “Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple allowed us to “think different”?”

    What’s stopping you? You don’t use Apple products, right? I thought you were unfree. Extremist. Distortion.

  313. Tim, I suggest you look up the meaning of “extremist”, “distortion” and “ad hominem.” The last one in particular.

    However, thanks for playing.

  314. Yeah, I’m fine with my comments, Jessica. Unsure how you think linking my comment attempting to contextualize a quote that is clearly trying to draw out some unique meaning of the word “steal” to the assertion that ideas have the same ownership rights of a car are not extremist distortions. (If I said “you’ve stolen my heart,” what would you think?) Nor do I comprehend saying I may not have an open mind, when you presume my thoughts, and insist on using childish terms like the “Borg.”

  315. Tim F, you’ve demonstrated that when you lose on the merits, you go ad hominen. You’ve done that in every debate with me, even though I have avoided doing the same to you. You reply to me above is another example. My comment was on topic.

  316. @Shelby Your post above doesn’t reference anything I said or much in this post; how was it on topic? A large number of commenters have stated how inscrutable, nonsensible, and conspiratorial your posts are. I think I’ve been remarkably patient trying to converse with you.

  317. You were advocating Jobs’ philosophy that if ideas are copied they should be done well. And so I responded and asked if you were saying that inferior spec Android phones are bad for humanity. Then you agreed with me that you were wrong, but you didn’t even realize you contradicted yourself, as evident by your accusation that comment was offtopic or didn’t refer to what you were writing to Jessica about. Haha what an idiot. No wonder why you don’t understand my comments.

  318. “You were advocating Jobs’ philosophy that if ideas are copied they should be done well. And so I responded and asked if you were saying that inferior spec Android phones are bad for humanity.”

    One is not related to other.

    “Then you agreed with me that you were wrong, but you didn’t even realize you contradicted yourself, as evident by your accusation that comment was offtopic or didn’t refer to what you were writing to Jessica about.”

    No, I did not. One thought does not preclude the other.

    “Haha what an idiot.”

    Ad hominem.

  319. Here’s an analogy for you: I think a company that wants to be the leading provider of water should focus on providing water. This does not mean I think dirty but still potable water is bad for a man dying of thirst.

  320. Sorry, minor edit:

    Here’s an analogy for you: I think a company that wants to be the leading provider of water should focus on providing THE VERY BEST water. This does not mean I think dirty but still potable water is bad for a man dying of thirst.

  321. “idiot” was a statement of fact, based on what I documented in my prior comment. And I also documented that you make false ad hominen statements about the merits of my comments. In the other blog we have your repeated use of the word “crackpot” (and other such words) without any proof on your part. In the other blog, you characterize my writings an “Marxist”, yet nearly everything I write is arguing against collectivism. I can only assume you either can’t (or don’t) read or you don’t know the definition of Marxist. Your analogy about water does nothing to refute what Jessica has been trying to explain to you. You still don’t get it. Logic fail.

  322. @Shelby No, not a statement of fact. Please find a single person here who thinks several of your thoughts that I characterize as “crackpot” that disagree. I have never used the term “Marxist” — maybe you should discern the difference between “Tom” and “Tim F.” My analogy about water isn’t addressed at Jessica’s comment; it is aimed at your off-topic, illogical conclusions.

  323. Sorry, again, that came out poorly worded:

    Please find a single person here who thinks several of your thoughts that I characterize as “crackpot” ARE INTELLIGENT AND ON POINT.

  324. > What’s really troubling is that Jobs made the walled garden seem cool. He created a huge following that is not merely resigned to having their choices limited, but willing to praise the prison bars because they have pretty window treatments.

    It may have been Leclerc Buffon who first said “le style c’est l’homme — the style is the man” but it is an observation that anyone with sense had understood centuries before. Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance.

  325. Been out of the loop for a while, so pardon the late comment:

    I program. I understand the resentment of the “walled garden”. But, this kind of thinking is nearly irrelevant on the scale that matters. Large scale commercial computing (by business, and, especially, consumers) could give two shits about the development model. Users care only about the end product in all of its manifestations – usability, functionality, design, price, ownership cache (i.e. the social image projected by one’s possessions).

    Jobs excelled as a leader and marketer who was able to bring some of the best computing products (in these dimensions) to a large public. He understood the technical aspects enough to marry them to the user-oriented features, and he was very good at the ancillary skills required for success in a (relatively) free economy. He explicitly devalued engineering prowess and sensibility; his understanding of the end-user’s requirements was the sine qua non of his method and his mission. And, it was _his_ unfettered judgment of what was a good product that drove him. This was his signature contribution, and millions of people are better off because of it. It is easy to point out his faults, but they pale in comparison to this contribution.

  326. I call Steve Jobs the Father of Innovation. He literally changed lives and brought technology to whole new level. He set standards for companies and the market. He is simply amazing!

    If only I had the chance to meet him like you did. :(

  327. Please, ESR, never again pretend to be a libertarian.

    You have this bizarre notion not only that *I* need to be protected from *my* choices … but other people need to be protected from them, too.

    It’s insanity and inanity all rolled together in a neat little stupid package.

  328. >You have this bizarre notion not only that *I* need to be protected from *my* choices … but other people need to be protected from them, too.

    No. You, on the other hand clearly have a problem comprehending English. Clue: to be non-libertarian, one has to advocate foreclosing peoples choices by force.

  329. Pingback: Raymond on Jobs and RMS | M-! cat scholarist

  330. >though it’s often been my job in the past to be a peacemaker after RMS has made the open-source community look bad in public

    nice self-mythification Eric

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>